Indonesian Students Show Shades of Brilliance
Surabaya. Maria Elenora and Yogi Purnomo, ninth graders at Surabaya’s Petra 3 Christian High School, have invented a pair of sunglasses with a built-in sensor that will help blind people more easily navigate obstacles.
The sunglasses contain an ultrasonic transceiver that works by transmitting a high-frequency sound wave in front of the user. The wave is sent back to the receiver if it hits an object a blind person could walk in to.
The time it takes for the wave to be sent back to the receiver determines the distance of the object from the user.
“If a blind person approaches an obstacle, for instance a wall, then a sound will go off to warn them,” Elenora said.
The range of the sensor can be adjusted up to a maximum of three meters, but according to Elenora, the device becomes less effective the larger the depth of the field.
“The user might get confused if the obstacle is still a long way from them but the sensor has already gone off,” she said. “Ideally, it should be around 30 centimeters from the obstacle before it goes off.”
The students perfected the idea in just four months; two months before the six-month limit set by their school for extra-curricular electronics projects.
“The biggest challenge was finding the time because this was an extracurricular activity, and it took a while to finish,” Elenora said.
The inventors say they will not patent the sunglasses so that every blind person will be able to take advantage of them.
They also said that it would be tedious and expensive to apply for a patent.
The sensor that is attached to the sunglasses is easy to construct and only costs about Rp 70,000 ($7.50).
The students say they came up with the idea because they were concerned that the blind were not being sufficiently aided by advances in technology.
“Technology should be able to help them more,” Elenora said.