CBS The Green Tralee is an all boys secondary school of approximately 620 students in Tralee Co. Kerry. This BEAP (Blind and Elderly Assistant project) is the first time an entry has been displayed at the BT young Scientist. The Green has being building its STEM profile with the introduction of 9 STEM subjects. The boys success is adding to the schools portfolio of achievement in Maths Olymiad, ISTA Science and Maths school quizzes, the Angus Beef national competition and Scifest success. The entire school is very excited and a bus full of supporters will be travelling to the BTYS exhibition on the 11th January 2018.
The project was made by Kian Trant, Seamus Knightly, Conor Crowley (pictured above). They are third years who have an interest in coding, from CBS The Green. ”We all have been working on Alexa for almost a year. The project was originally made for the Scifest competition, but it has been improved upon significantly since then.”
The idea for this project came from Kian Trant. His grandfather is visually impaired. Kian developed a passion for coding off the back of his experience with Coder Dojo, a volunteer- led community of free programming clubs for young people between 7 and 17. He considered how he could use coding and smart technology to help his grandfather with simple activities of daily living and improve his quality of life. Kian set out to create a portable, easy to use device that would have loads of useful functions to better control his grandad’s physical environment and help him in his day-to-day life.
The device is called BEAP. BEAP stands for Blind and Elderly Assistant Project. The purpose of BEAP is to use Artificial Intelligences to help the visually impaired and elderly. BEAP combines both Google Assistant and Alexa into one portable device unlike other similar products on the market. As well as combining both Google Assistant and Alexa, BEAP does not need to be plugged into an electrical socket and is roughly the size of a smartphone. This means BEAP is portable and can be used anywhere with an internet connection. For many visually impaired individuals, tactile intensive technology can be a barrier to its use. BEAP operates on voice command without the need for magnifying images on a screen or using touchscreen. For Kian’s grandad, this now means asking “Alexa” for a phone number rather than paying the hidden cost of ringing telephone directory enquiries, being able to play his favourite radio station and check the weather!
We spoke to visually impaired people and their families and carers, a UNESCO chair, NCBI members, a consultant ophthalmologist, and optician. We collected data from students in our school and got advice from leading technology and coding experts at the Kerry Science Festival. The main part of our display at the BTYS will be showing how BEAP can be used to turn on smart light switches and smart plugs all by voice activation. The students classmates have had great fun trying out BEAP and got all the answers to their sports questions! Being a boys school they were mostly football based.