Harrovians Design Smart Cane for Visual Impairment

Harrovians Design Smart Cane for Visual Impairment

Every year, several teams of Harrovians enter the Engineering Education Scheme, hoping to win a Crest Gold Engineering Award, which is assessed at undergraduate level.  
 
This scheme is a six-month programme organised by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), which links teams of Year 12 students and their teachers with local companies (including Transport for London, Red Bull, Boeing and Airbus) or universities (including Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial), in order that they may work on real, scientific, engineering and technology projects.
 
According to the EDT, 'the scheme provides students with an in-depth experience in science, engineering and technology that will enable them to make an informed decision about their future studies and career'. This is achieved by giving the participants 'hands-on work experience as part of a team; experience of problem solving, working on a project that is relevant to a local company; use of a university’s engineering workshops to develop, build and test solutions to the problem; professional skills lectures on communications (written, verbal and visual) and project management; the opportunity to develop technical skills and see school physics, chemistry, technology etc applied in an industrial environment; an opportunity to meet professional and graduate engineers, scientists and technologists; and experience in presenting their solution, in a formal verbal presentation and formal written technical report, to a panel of senior professional engineers'.
 
This year, one of the Harrovian teams has designed a smart cane for people with visual impairment. The cane provides haptic feedback and sensory awareness of the user's surroundings, using an ultrasonic sensor and a microprocessor system. In March, the team visited the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, where they presented their design to a panel of professors, one of whom had offered earlier guidance and suggestions for futher extension. After an extremely positive reception from the Cambridge professors, the team will now submit their thesis to the Engineering Education Scheme board in the Summer term. They also plan to enter it for a number of other awards.