One year in, and the pressure is all ready mounting for Team NAVIGATE, seeking to develop a feasible and cost-effective device that can address the problem of navigation for the blind.
When the group formed nearly a year ago, everyone was excited to work on their project proposed by mentor Rama Chellappa, Chair of the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland. While some members of the team were eager to get their hands on the project’s technical aspects, others were motivated by a strong desire to help in alleviating the difficulties of those living with sight impairments.
“My grandmother is blind, so this project is close to home,” said team member Yael Osman, Psychology major.
At the beginning of their sophomore year NAVIGATE was off to a great start. Having both successfully gotten Microsoft Kinect, an integral part of their project, to run on any computer and figured how to run object recognition algorithms on the device, things were looking great for the team’s progress. However, as the academic year progressed the team ran into many roadblocks with hardware, software, and the IRB (Institutional Review Board). Their mentor however was optimistic and urged them to get the ball rolling and continue to push forward with the project.
Despite their numerous setbacks, the team remains optimistic. “I’m excited for the future. I’m thinking we can actually do some cool things over the summer with this,” said team member Ryan Sawyer, Electrical Engineering major.
Regardless of their issues with the project, Team NAVIGATE has come a long way in terms of team dynamic. The team of 14 strangers has come to bond over the past year. “We’re definitely closer now,” said Sawyer.
-Agnes Varghese: Class of 2015: Team NAVIGATE