Two Thai teams took first prize in two categories of the Technology and Design at the Student Design Challenge at the International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering (iCreate 2014), recently held in Singapore.

Co-organised by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) and Singapore Therapeutic, Assistive & Rehabilitative Technologies Centre, winner of Student Design Challenge's Technology Category was the "Center Of Pressure Devices For Reducing Fall Risk In Elders" by the team from the Computer Engineering Faculty of Kasetsart University (Sriracha Campus). Team members Yuttapong Aunhathaweesup and Paweena Manbua developed a "Podoscope" to check for planted foot pressure, to investigate the weight changes of the foot while standing.

A Podoscope is a machine used for analysing the characteristics of a patient's foot.

"This allows for more convenience during medical treatment," said Yuttapong, adding that the system has been used in 11 hospitals in the north of Thailand to filter diabetics. Besides the elderly, the Podoscope can be applied to sports science and shops who provide medical shoes.

Winner in the Design Category was the "Braille Keyboard Development on Android OS" project, created by Sirapatsorn Pongpiriyakarn and Patarin Sriwatanasakdi, from Mahidol Wittayanusorn School.

The Braille Keyboard uses touchscreen finger-drawn symbols (Gestures) as an input method. The symbols are based on the Braille alphabet.

Users can draw the symbol anywhere on the screen, so they do not have to hear what keys they are touching.

But if users want to confirm what they have typed, sound feedback and vibration feedback can be enabled. Vibration feedback will make the phone buzz after the program receives each character. The symbols can be drawn in any size. The phone can also be held in one hand and the thumb can be used to draw the symbol.

The project uses Eclipse, an open source program for developing Android applications, as the editor.

During trials, the program was tested typing four English words (19 characters) on the Braille Keyboard compared to typing on a default Samsung keyboard with accessibility service.

"By using our keyboard, typing time decreased 22.93% on average and mistyped characters were 1.32%. We also found that after the Braille Keyboard had been used, mistyping decreased.

"So the keyboard we developed was shown to be an efficient choice for an Android OS smartphone," said Sirapatsorn, the team leader.

Reference : AKIN. 2557. Home-grown teams win big at iCreate 2014. Bangkok Post. 3 Sep 2014 at 06.00