Assistive Technology Hackathon

Pradeep Balachandran, Chair IEEE Communications Disability SIG, Mohan Kumar, V P Megachips, Munir Mohammed, Program Specialist ComSoc & eHealth

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Bringing enhanced abilities for those with disabilities through the advancement of technology and standards development is a primary goal of the IEEE Communications Disability Special Interest Group. Towards that end, it recently sponsored an Assistive Technology Hackathon that was held on 24 September 2016 in coordination with All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru, India. This collaborative effort reached out to the engineering student community inviting them to apply their collective talent and potential by proposing abstracts and participating in hackathon.

Assistive Technology encompasses any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, including commercially acquired items that may have been modified or customized. Advances in Assistive Technology can bring benefit to individuals with communication disorders and a variety of congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy and autism, as well as incidental conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and aphasia.

The Assistive Technology Hackathon call for proposals reached all of the Engineering and Research Institutions in Mysuru through the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology (EMBS) chapters and IEEE Student Branches. In response, 46 abstract proposals were received and reviewed, of which 26 were approved for presentation. At the culmination of the hackathon eight teams were selected by the judges for technical supervision and clinical immersion at All India Institute for Speech and Hearing.  In addition, three cash prizes were awarded to the following teams:

1st Prize: Sign Language Recognition  (TS307) – M.I.T. Mysuru

2nd Prize: Hand Talk (TS207) – N.I.E. Mysuru

3rd Prize: e-Module for listening comprehension (TS302) – AIISH, Mysuru

The teams to be inducted by AIISH included:

  • Intelligent interactive front desk enquiry system (TS105) – G.S.S.S. IETW, Mysuru
  • Low cost device for prolong hearing (TS106) – A.T.M.E. College of Engineering, Mysuru
  • Hand Talk (TS207) – N. I. E., Mysuru
  • Symbolic language to text and speech conversion (TS301) – Vidya Vardhaka, Mysuru
  • Real time text to speech conversion and translation system (TS303) – S.J.C.E., Mysuru
  • Text to speech – Speech to text conversion and implementation (TS304) – NIE-IT, Mysuru
  • Sign Language Recognition (SLR) (TS307) – M. I. T., Mysuru
  • Yantrika Vani, Kannada (Regional Language) Text-to-Speech System (TS308) – Vidya Vikas, Mysuru

The Assistive Technology Hackathon helped build a bridge between the user community, academics and industry, as well as providing the opportunity for students to potentially be offered internships at companies attending the hackathon, including Philips, Skanray Technologies and Titan Company Limited. It also marked the formation and possible extension of a special interest group for the visually challenged, also supported by the IEEE Standards Association.

The Hindu, a major national newspaper in India, provided coverage of the event.