Our experience as young researchers developing the Vibrasor project started at our school – Jun N. Cadavid in Itagüí (Department of Antioquia, Colombia) – which includes students with hearing impairments and other disabilities.
My teammate Katherine and I realized that the deaf community faces a big problem with traffic on the road. To communicate with each other, we must pay close attention to our sign language – and this can prevent us from being alert to passing cars and motorcycles.
This problem inspired us to think about a way to help the deaf community, and we came up with the idea of a product that could tell us when a car is approaching. First, we talked to the research team at our school, and the teachers in charge gave us the support we needed to get started. Then, with help from the electronic engineering team at the University of Antioquia, we developed a prototype of Vibrasor that produced vibrations to detect the sound of cars. Later, we added lighting to produce a visual response as well. The device works simply – it captures sounds generated by cars on the street and transforms them into vibrations and light signals to warn deaf and blind people, so they can avoid accidents. Vibrasor is specifically programmed to capture sound frequencies produced by the horns of cars and motorcycles.
We presented our prototype at the Science, Technology and Research Fair in Explora Park and won first place in the field of innovation, in the basic secondary education category (students from sixth grade to ninth grade). Ruta N, a public non-profit from Medellin that sponsors projects that stand out at the fair, gave us the opportunity to travel to the United States to represent our country at the Intel Isef international science fair.
Our trip was an unforgettable experience. We saw some of Phoenix, Arizona, and at the fair we had the opportunity to interact with individuals from different places and cultures. Communication was a little difficult because we do not speak English, and as deaf students, we had trouble making ourselves understood. But, thank God, everything went well and the experience was quite educational for us. We came in fourth place in the category of electronic and mechanical engineering, and so represented our country well. We were very well received when we returned home. The Itagüí city council recognized our achievement.
We want Vibrasor to help people with hearing impairments and even visual disabilities enhance their lifestyle, reduce their risk of getting hurt on the streets and facilitate their mobility. Right now we are doing more research to improve our product, but we have not been able to do much because we don’t have enough resources. This is why Vibrasor is not yet in use. We hope that very soon the people who need help will enjoy its advantages, and that all our work will contribute to a better future for our society.