Buddy the Cane - a Technological Breakthrough for Visually Impaired People
A young team of robotics enthusiasts in Greece have created a breakthrough in cane technology for visually impaired people around the world, proving that no one is too young to make a difference.
According to the World Health Organization, 39 million people worldwide are estimated to be blind. For those people, most aspects of daily life can be a challenge. For the lucky ones who have the ability to see it is hard to imagine how life is while being blind.
Some young teenagers gave that situation a thought and they decided to do something to make life easier for the blind ones. Christos Rentzis (16), Irida Aggeolopoulou (15), Vasiliki Iliadi (14) and Alkiviadis Kostikopoulos (13) are the members of PlaisioBots, a team formed by Plaisio Computers s.a. to represent Greece in the World Robot Olympiad (WRO), a robotics contest for young people. With the help of their coach and world robotic champion Dialekti Athina Voutyrakou and her assistant Iason Somoglou they worked hard to create a cane that functions with 3D sensors to support a detection system. The holder of the cane is able to identify obstacles both on the ground and at eye level through vibrating motion sensors. The sensors cover the area to the left, to the right and in front of its user. It can also inform about whether a traffic light shows a red or green light.
For the competition, the Greek team should have travelled to Korea to participate in the WRO, but because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, every team presented their innovation through a video-call while staying in their home countries. PlaisioBots eventually became the winner in the competition, in which 60 teams participated and they earned the gold medal for Greece. Following that, the Greek authorities honored the young team-members for their accomplishment.
But what is the important message of this event that is even more valuable than the win itself? What should we learn from this team that worked for a whole year every weekend during a pandemic to accomplish that goal?
First of all, it is an example that creativeness, determination, discipline and believing that someone’s own abilities can indeed result into something great. But the important point is that the motivation for this young team was to help their society through their own contribution. The people in Greece and also the rest of the world can realize through this achievement that an investment in young people and their potential, whether in the field of robotics or any other field, will result in a benefit that will slowly, but surely improve our world.