We originally went into Bitcamp very interested in helping those living with disabilities. After brainstorming for a bit, we decided that it'd be most innovative to bring the walking stick for the blind into the 21st century. We fiddled around with some ideas for possible innovations, started building, and refined our idea over the last few days.
What it does
There is an ultrasonic rangefinder at the bottom of the stick that detects how far the blind user is from bumping into an object. If they are too close to bumping into something, a motor will spin and provide vibration feedback to the user. Otherwise, the user has access to a single button. Pressing the button for a short bit will take an image from the onboard camera and use the Clarifai API to describe the images in the photograph. Holding the button down for a while will send a text message with the user's location asking for assistance.
How we built it
When we originally had the idea, we had nearly no idea of where to gather the materials for the project. Eventually, we searched many of our engineer friends for sensors and actuators, and were lucky enough to find a good stick on the ground. Eventually we just sat down at the keyboard and started learning the relevant APIs. After a while, we were building it!
Challenges we ran into
We had noticeable challenges with analog versus digital signals. In order to analyze both types of signals, we were forced to use an Arduino in addition to our Raspberry Pi. Then comes the issue of communicating between the two. This was likely one of the biggest obstacles we had to face.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of our ability to design and build circuits in such a small amount of time. We were not prepared to work with hardware when originally going into this event, but we were still able to perform well.
What we learned
We learned much about the process of using hardware in a project. The creation of circuits and integration of these circuits with the software was a new experience for all of us.