“Jockey Club AI Community Innovation Programme – Challenge Day” on the theme of accessibility for the Visually Impaired
As artificial intelligence (AI) has been widely adopted in different aspects of our lives and work, learning and building AI solutions have become easier with web-based tools and educational platforms. To promote artificial intelligence literacy and empower students to apply the knowledge learned for improving the life quality of the needy, the Challenge Day of “Jockey Club AI Community Innovation Programme” was successfully held on 24 and 25 September at Olympian City. The 2-day competition served as a unique learning opportunity for 28 primary and secondary school students on the theme of enhancing accessibility for the visually impaired.
Funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Jockey Club AI Community Innovation Programme is a hands-on education programme, bringing together participants from schools, communities, and the industry to learn, play and solve real-world problems with AI. On the Challenge Day in September, visually impaired people were invited to share their difficulties while travelling and shopping, and provide feedback to students for enhancing their solutions, which in turn cultivate a user-centric mindset and utilise technology as a force for good.
Mr. Keny Yuen, a visually impaired digital accessibility consultant, mentioned in the User Sharing session that, “With tools such as white canes, tactile guide paths and braille, the visually impaired can generally understand the surroundings and navigate the space. But as the pathways in indoor areas such as shopping malls are narrower than outdoors and it is difficult to distinguish whether we are in the corridor or inside a shop, it is challenging to visit shops as we wish.“ He also suggested the participants act as the visually impaired and explore the environment by hearing and touching when designing the solutions.
During the two-day event, 9 teams of participants went through the process of innovation under the guidance of mentors, in which they learned about the problems through talking with the visually impaired, inspecting the shopping mall and using different AI tools to build their solutions. After some testing and modification, they presented the final solutions to the judges.
The champion of the Primary division went to a team from C.C.C. Heep Woh Primary School (Cheung Sha Wan) who designed a Smart Hanger. Users simply need to input the style and size of the clothing they wish to buy in a boutique and the mobile app will guide them to the appropriate wardrobe. As they pick up the hanger, they will be informed about the information such as the design, color and price of the clothing. As for the Secondary division, the champion was a team from Maryknoll Fathers’ School with their smart traffic app. The app will link with an external camera that uses an AI model to recognise objects including obstacles and bus stop signs, and remind users instantly.
Mr. Chong Chan Yau, the Executive Committee member of the Hong Kong Blind Union and the Board Member of the Dialogue in the Dark HK Foundation; and Mr. Kelvin Siu, CEO of InnoSpire Technology judged the event and advised their comments from the perspective of users and product development. Mr. Siu who developed a mobile app and smart glasses for the visually impaired pointed out that, “Problem identification is a critical step in problem-solving and it is glad to see all participants selected topics that aligned with the needs of the visually impaired.” Mr. Chong admired students’ creativity and encouraged them to keep developing the solutions. He also emphasised the importance of universal design that a good product should be accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors.
To wrap up the first Challenge Day held physically, Mr. Cyron Chan, Executive Director of MakerBay Foundation appreciated the enthusiasm of participants and the support from mentors, judges and the visually impaired, for co-creating a rewarding experience. “As an organiser, we are committed to providing an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge learned in the community workshops to solve challenges faced by the visually impaired. With their creativity, we believe there will be more and more impactful AI solutions to be developed.”
To register for the upcoming Community Workshop, please click here for details.