24 August 2015 – First year Computer Science PhD student Vanchinathan Venkataramani and his NUS teammates won third prize in the Student Category at Hackathon@SG for their ‘smart walking stick’ idea. Ninety-four student teams and over 1,100 participants across all categories competed in the event, which was held at the end of July in Singapore.
Participants were tasked to develop solutions, using Internet of Things/Wearables, Virtual Reality, Cloud Computing, Big Query and Open Data, that would contribute towards building a Smart Nation, including specific challenges to address the areas of Smart Living, Education, Community, Health, Business and Environment.
Vanchinathan, who works on Embedded Systems under the supervision of Professor Tulika Mitra, teamed up with fourth year Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD student, Arrchana Muruganantham, and first year Communications and New Media PhD student, Prashanth Ravikumar, from the faculties of Engineering and Arts and Social Sciences respectively. Their team (Team Brainwave) decided to address the issue of the growing aging population and their ability to ‘age-in-place’ by building a walking stick with sensors (e.g. accelerometer) for the elderly.
“Given the rising aging population and increasing dementia concerns in Singapore, our smart walking stick enables the elderly's care-giver to monitor their location in real-time, notifies the care-giverif the elderly has fallen down, guides the elderly back to their home, and also tracks their physical activity. Traditional solutions require elderly to wear a device or expect them to learn new technologies. Our solution on the other hand added smartness to a walking stick used by the elderly on a day to day basis,” said Vanchinathan. Team Brainwave also won $3,000 for their innovative solution.
In addition, Team Minions, comprising second year Master of Computing student Harshul Gandhi, and recent Master of Computing graduates Naman Aggarwal, Shantanu Alshi and Siddharth Goel, progressed to become one of the Top 10 finalists in the Open Category and won the OneMap Prize sponsored by Singapore Land Authority (SLA), for best use of one map APIs. Following consultations with representatives from the Sentosa Development Corporation who provided them with valuable information about the current challenges of managing Sentosa, the team came up with a solution that catered to both visitors and management.
“The application we developed provided real time, location specific information such as nearby attractions, amenities, events, last bus timings etc to visitors. In addition to this, we also created a control centre for Sentosa management to show real time crowd data on Onemap and thus aid efficient crowd management. We used low powered bluetooth beacons to detect user location. Our application solved the real challenges faced by Sentosa Management and at the same time provided visitors with valuable information. We created the app such that it required minimum user interaction so that the visitor can enjoy his time at Sentosa and at the same time has all the nearby information at his fingertips,” Naman explained.
In describing their experience of the event, Naman also said, “Apart from building a complete solution in less than 24 hours, pitching the idea along with a demo in 3 minutes was a challenge. This being the first hackathon for most of us, our focus was to complete the challenge and have fun coding all night. One of the many memorable aspects of the hackathon was that our team also won a lot of spot quizzes at the event. We also got a chance to meet Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim (Minister of Communications and Information) and interact with Vivian Balakrishnan (Minister in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative) and other dignitaries from SDC, IDA and SLA. This hackathon proved to be a highlight event for the year for us. It was a great experience participating in Singapore's largest hackathon. Not only [did] we enhance our technical skills, but also got to meet great people and make good friends. Winning the one-map prize and reaching the finals was like icing on [the] cake for us.”