17 Apr 2018   |   Network News

Artificial intelligence frees the blind of their white cane

Third place and honorary award for Aalto University in innovation competition.

Aalto University's awarded team: Jyri Maanpää (left), Leo Pakola and Josef Taher

This year's SICK innovation competition organised in Helsinki for students of technology was won by a 3D walker designed by students of the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences. Second prize was for an apparatus making it possible to keep track of the fill factor of a warehouse even from the other side of the world. Third prize was shared: it was awarded to a robot that picks tomatoes, a device that enhances safety in mines, and a device developed by Aalto University students to help the blind.

The assistance apparatus produces sound that helps blind persons move around using the distance data of a laser scanner. Headphones give a three-dimensional soundscape allowing people to navigate intuitively in their environment without the sense of sight. The student group included Jyri Mäenpää, Josef Taher, Petri Manninen, and Leo Pakola.  Petri Rönnholm served as the supervising teacher.

The innovation of the second student group of Aalto University, a modular multi-spectral scanner, got an honorary award in the competition. The innovation turns the SICK MRS 1000 scanner into a multi-spectral device with intensity levels available on several different wavelengths. This enables the use of the scanner for classifying materials in addition to producing a 3D point cloud. The student group included Heikki Kauhanen, Tiia Kokkonen and Toni Rantanen (right in the photo), Ville Nikkonen and supervising teacher Petri Rönnholm.

'The students had made cool applications and good innovations. Quite a few of the innovations could lead to the launch of a start-up or technology company', says Ari Rämö, CEO of SICK Finland.

The first prize was 10,000 euros worth of sensors and sensor technology. In addition, the schools taking part in the competition were allowed to keep the sensors that they used in the competition.

This release was first published 12 April 2018 by Aalto University.