Singapore – Ten winning teams of the Inaugural National Assistive & Rehabilitative Technology Students’ (A&RTs) Challenge 2013 displayed their projects at the award ceremony on 6 April, at City Square Mall. The A&RTs Challenge is a technical design competition for students from Institutes of Higher Learning to prototype assistive and rehabilitative technologies that can improve the quality of life for seniors as well as people with disabilities.

Co-founders of the A&RTs Challenge, Dr Bala Rajaratnam (left) and Prof Ang Wei Tech (right) at the award ceremony in City Square Mall. Photo by Royson Poh
Co-founders of the A&RTs Challenge, Dr Bala Rajaratnam (left) and Prof Ang Wei Tech (right) at the award ceremony.
Photo by Royson Poh

The challenge comprised of two categories. The Design Category focused on the application of a user-centered design process, while the Technology Category emphasized the development of technology to overcome a handicap.

A total of 60 projects were received in the competition. Five winners were selected for each category based on creativity, potential for commercialization, usability, social impact and design implementation.

Dr Bala Rajaratnam, co-founder of the A&RTs Challenge said that the challenge served to develop innovation amongst students in Singapore’s tertiary institutions. Participants in the A&RTs challenge, received training in design thinking as well as attended a workshop on understanding disability and how technology can provide greater independence for people with disabilities.

Team from ITE College Central displaying their winning project "Bus Stopper for the Visually Impaired" at the A&RT Challenge Award Ceremony. Front left to right: Wong Sian Liang (Team Leader), Tan Keng Ting Kenny, Jeanni Francisca & Audric Ping Wei Xiang. Back: Alex Low (Lecturer and Team Mentor) Photo by Royson Poh
Team from ITE College Central at the A&RT Challenge Award Ceremony. Front left to right: Wong Sian Liang (Team Leader), Tan Keng Ting Kenny, Jeanni Francisca & Audric Ping Wei Xiang. Back: Alex Low (Lecturer and Team Mentor)
Photo by Royson Poh

The team from Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central won a place to iCreate 2013 with their project “Bus Stopper for the Visually Impaired”. Alex Low, team mentor and lecturer with ITE College Central, shared that the students from ITE College Central first observed a visually impaired person struggling to identify the number of an oncoming bus. This subsequently led to the development of a system that would alert the bus driver of a vision-impaired passenger at the bus stop ahead.

The ten winning teams will participate in the 7th International Convention on Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology (iCreate), which will be held in Gyeonggi, Korea from 29 to 31 Aug 2013.

Low said that the team was excited to showcase their prototype at iCreate 2013. They will continue to improve on the product design in terms of usability and aesthetics, to make the product more user-friendly and attractive.

Bus Stopper for the Visually Impaired Project Poster.  Image: ITE College Central
Bus Stopper for the Visually Impaired Project Poster.
Image: ITE College Central

“Through the competition, I learnt that it is not winning that matters but it is more important to be able to help the disadvantaged,” said team leader, Wong Sian Liang. Team member Audric Ping added, “This competition has inspired me to reach out to the less fortunate and help them using the knowledge that I have gained through my studies.”

The A&RT Challenge is co-organized by Start Centre and the Centre for Enabled Living.