Finalist category: BT Young Pioneer
BT Young Pioneer, Finalist, 2019
“Be Seen Trendy” is a small hand held device consisting of a Raspberry Pi computer with an NFC shield which can read NFC labels attached to the coat hangers of each garment a blind person owns. When the label is read, the device provides the relevant information about the garment, description, colour, type of material and suggests possible other garments that can be worn with it to be seen trendy.
This product solves the problem for blind people of not being able to dress trendily without assistance. For up to 360,000 people who are registered blind in the UK, this will mean that they can independently decide on the clothes they would like to wear each day without the need for any assistance.
NFC is a feature in nearly every phone these days. It is a method of wireless data transfer “Near Field Communication” that detects and enables technology in close proximity to communicate without the need for an internet connection. It’s easy, fast and works automatically. The tech involved is deceptively simple. Evolved from radio frequency identification (RFID) tech, an NFC chip operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it’s activated by another chip, small amounts of data between the two devices can be transferred when held a few centremeters from each other. Near field communication is fast and easy. The Raspberry Pi is programmed using Python to read the NFC label and play a .wav recording of all the relevant information about the garment along with relevant fashion advice to be seen trendy.
There are some devices currently available to help identify the colour of clothes but there are no devices to identify the garment and provide fashion guidance as to what would match in order to be fashionable. The ‘Be Seen Trendy’ device enables blind people to dress themselves independently in a fashionable way – the way they want to and to be seen trendy. It enables the blind person to be more independent and thus help with their mental well being. It also adds to the fashion life of the garments thus helping contribute to a more sustainable environment.
This high-tech digital product will inspire any blind person to cope with their condition and to become more confident and independent in their daily life. It will also let other young people see how digital technology and electronics can be simply applied to solve everyday problems in a fun and exciting way.
Currently, the device is a fully functional prototype – it requires further development to make it into a comfortable hand held product. It needs to be ergonomically designed to suit all age groups but more importantly it could be turned into a phone app. The team would like to grow this project into a marketable device with full testing and evaluation to show that it makes a big difference to the lives of blind people. They are currently testing and evaluating the device and displaying it at different competitions to showcase it to the public. The aim is for the “Be Seen Trendy” device to be completely portable and to be able to be used anywhere without any interference from cables and by any age group.
The two girls should win The BT Young Pioneer Award as they provide one of the best examples of how young people are tackling societal and environmental problems they care about through embracing new technology. Their project ticks all the boxes for using new technologies to tackle the three key problem areas of disability, mental health and environmental sustainability.