Fri, Sep 28, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Students get top prize for sensor shoes

FOR THE BLIND:The shoes are equipped with sensors that trigger an alarm which sends out an audible and vibrating signal when the wearer nears an obstacle

By Lin Hsiao-yun and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Two elementary-school students have invented a pair of “security shoes” that are equipped with infrared sensors for the visually impaired, winning a gold medal at the eighth International Exhibition for Young Inventors held in June in Bangkok, Thailand.

Loyal fans of Taiwanese blind singer-songwriter Ricky Hsiao (蕭煌奇), Lu Yu-ching (呂昱慶), from Greater Kaohsiung’s Sih Wei Primary School, and Lin Yi-tung (林羿彤), from New Taipei City’s (新北市) Haishan Elementary School, said they conceived the shoes after learning about buzzer devices in the sixth-grade curriculum on Lego robotics and wanted to do something for their visually impaired idol.

“Whenever blind singer Hsiao performs, he focuses on singing and refrains from moving around, which we figured could be out of fear that he may fall off the stage. That was why we decided to invent the shoes, so that Hsiao could feel secure while performing,” they said on Wednesday.

The toecap of their shoes incorporates an infrared sensor that emits an alarm whenever obstacles are detected in front of the shoes, Lu said, adding that it also had a vibration mode.

“After visually impaired individuals put on the security shoes, the pressure sensor built into each shoe will automatically activate, affording them an opportunity to walk around freely. The production cost of each pair is now estimated to range from NT$5,000 to NT$10,000,” Lu said.

Hsiao’s agent, Mou Chung-en (牟鐘恩), said Hsiao was happy to see that children were willing to work for the good of the visually impaired and that he would definitely buy a pair.

Seven other inventions designed by young Taiwanese won gold at the international exhibition, with three of the inventors coming from Greater Kaohsiung’s Dongguang Elementary School. One was a multi-function security cane, invented by Dongguang students Hsu Yi-chun (許逸群) and Fang Hsuan-yung (方璿詠). The cane features a sensor that emits an alarm when its user falls down, an LED lighting system and a GPS tracker that could help prevent elderly people from getting lost.

Additional reporting by Chang Yi-ling

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