There are 39 million blind people on Earth and many of them suffer limited mobility and require caretakers. Isn't it time to incorporate technology into a stylish solution for them?
What it does
senseAbility currently contains an infrared ping sensor with auditory warnings if the wearer comes too close to running into an object, a collar button that allows the wearer to hear current temperature, and a discreet button that allows the wearer to send a lat/long tagged distress signal via SMS if they are lost or in a dangerous situation.
How we built it
Our team comprises two fashion students and three computer science seniors. The fashion students hand-made a stylish jacket with adequate space and wiring area to place our admittedly bulky electronics, and we computer science majors crash-coursed ourselves in hardware and set up two Arduino Unos to do the distress signal/GPS and the temperature/IR sensor.
Challenges we ran into
Hardware is aptly named because it's hard. We all haven't taken circuits since we were 15 or 16 in physics in high school. We had a lot of difficulty trying to figure out how to build an amplifier until we found an integrated one but we did manage to build a low pass/high pass filter with the help of an EE friend from Texas (that we later scrapped because it reduced volume to a point that you couldn't hear alerts through the fabric). We also attempted to integrate speech into the system but with no text-to-speech shields available we had to use a random person's text-to-speech class they shared on the Arduino forums, but we lacked the time to code the phonetics properly.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
A working mobility garment that protects its user from injury and helps keep them in contact with family in case of emergencies!
What we learned
Bring an electrical engineer next time. To be serious, we all learned a lot about circuits and coding for hardware, since none of us have much of a background in EE.
What's next for senseAbility
Refinement of everything on the tech side. The garment is stylish and attractive and makes it seem like we don't have two arduinos and five breadboards in it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't refine that going forward.