the benchmark of blind design
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
What if there was a population of 285 million people that all had the same need? Right now the World Health Organization reports there are 285 million visually impaired people in the world and Dr. Christopher Kallie finds that they all have “variability in stepping direction”. In tangible terms, when blind people try to cross the street they veer into traffic and can get hit by vehicles.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Stria means “a linear mark” and that is what our device provides. It uses proprietary models to analyze how walking happens and when veering occurs. Using Inertial Measurement Units we are able to discern yaw rates and quantify that into meaningful data that can be used by our system. Tangibly, the user wears a belt with two vibration motors (one on each side) with a computer chip, battery and sensor positioned near on the back. The natural placement of the belt allows the user to feel very little weight and it places little strain on the users body. Once the user starts to veer vibration occurs on the same side as the veering direction alerting the user that they are dangerously veering. The set up accounts for purposeful turns which were an initial concern.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Firstly, our team leadership will meet with the student to discuss both their hopes for the team, as well as what they feel they can bring to Team Stria. Upon identifying an area where they will be engaged and supported, they will pick a sub team to be on, whether it is the business team who works on fundraising/pitch/grants, the build team who works on electronics/hardware/design, or the research team who works with the blind community to learn more about their needs and experiences. However, despite our team divisions, Stria is actively committed to bring all members of our team integrated, and we have weekly whole-team meetings and are in constant communication with each other to ensure that we are all working towards the same goal.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Stria is the only solution on the market for blind veering. We are you uniquely able to combine cutting edge consumer technologies with the needs of blind individuals. We have passionately and strategically built relationships with over 15 blind centers and numerous blind users and trainers to effectively build a useful and beautiful solution.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We tested Stria on our user Jimmy and received incredibly positive feedback. He told us that Stria could save his life and was surprised at how something “so small could be so useful.” He told us that not only would Stria keep him physically safe from veering into traffic, but that it would also keep him mentally happy by reducing his stress.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Beyond extending our public reach, Stria is currently developing machine learning capabilities to better track how Blind users walk. Right now using our statistical models we can get to a 94% effectiveness rate with type II errors. After discussions with a machine learning expert, a budding industry leader, an Arduino linguist and a PhD candidate at Stanford we believe with deep neural networks can increase our effectiveness rate to 99%. We can learn how users walk and use machine learning to search for profound patterns.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
Right now we need equipment to rapidly prototype new form factors and create and maintain our presence within the blind community. Hopefully with your help we can purchase a reflow oven, machine custom circuit boards and have more interactions with blind individuals.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations between $1k-$5k
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)
Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?