Students created a system to help visually impaired swimmers

Students invented a “sonar” for swimmers with total or partial blindness. It is a portable device that essentially helps the swimmer to orient himself in the pool. The system was created in the context of the 7th Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition of Junior Achievement Greece (JA Greece).

It consists of a cap and special glasses and can be used in a swimming pool during training. The device is located on the cap and consists of special sensors, which inform the swimmer about the orientation he has taken in the pool and his approach at the end of the route, so that he can turn or finish. At the same time, there is the possibility through the bluetooth headset, the athlete to listen to the statistics of his training via connection to the mobile phone.

Panagiota Dedousi, a student at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NTUA and a member of the team, speaking to the Athenian / Macedonian News Agency, states that the team’s goal was to offer the swimmer with visual disability his full autonomy. She explains in detail how the system works: “the athlete has the ability not only to align during the route but also to know when to make the turn and where to finish. At the same time, through a gyroscope for orientation and an accelerometer for his time, he has the ability to know other information and through the connection of the device, with a mobile IoT application, he can know at each end of training exactly his statistics and the time has done for further improvement “.

Photo: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ

However, the target of the students is not only the adult athletes, but also children over 10 years old with similar difficulties, who want to start swimming. This amazing idea for the creation of a special “sonar” for swimmers was born from the experience of Panagiota Dedousi, but also of Rania Vlachou, a student of Management Science and Technology at ASOE and a member of Both girls are swimmers and know the requirements of swimming training themselves.

Together with the other children, Ifigenia Vasilaki (student of Management Science and Technology at ASOEE), Dimitris Lambros, Vangelis Georgakilas (both students of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NTUA) and Anastasios KaramitosO ) managed to turn the dream into reality and the idea took on “flesh and blood” through hard work and cooperation.

“As soon as Rania heard the idea for the competition, she motivated me too. “As swimmers we were already, we expressed our concerns and said that since we will participate in the competition, we will deal with something that we like and has a social impact”, describes Panagiota Dedousi.

Now the team aims to turn the device into a waterproof one so that it is ready for use and plans to promote it beyond the competition in which they participated. They are confident that it can practically help visually impaired swimmers in other areas of training, such as alerting them to possible obstacles in their path or to an athlete who is very close.

But before students went through the process, they wanted to make sure the system was useful. Thus, they turned to Paralympian and World Champion Charalambos Taiganidis in order to get his opinion: “It was very important for us to get validation from such a renowned athlete, who through his experience with people who directly concern them, not only approved but he also gave us feedback on how to proceed as well as tips for further use of the project and the device “, explains Panagiota Dedousi.

They also contacted the founder of the non-profit company “With Other Eyes”, Evangelos Avgoulas, who encouraged them to continue as he found their idea amazing. The team has already won first place in the Online Voting Challenge of JA Start Up 2021.

The “JA Start Up” program is a pioneering educational program of JA Europe that is implemented simultaneously in 300 Universities across Europe with the participation of 15,000 students. The program gives the opportunity to students aged 18-30 to develop their own business idea and helps them to use their skills in various areas and activities of a business. Essentially, students form groups and for a period of three months work on the development of a business idea, with the support of teachers and mentors.

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Final Competition will be held online, on May 28, with connections from the homes of students, judges and guests. The winning team will represent Greece in the Pan-European JA Enterprise Challenge of JA Europe, which will take place online, based in the Lithuanian Junior Achievement.


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