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Machakos University students develop app that assists visually impaired people

A section of university students work on their projects during the inter-university Hackathon 2023 competition held at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

A team of five students from Machakos University has won the Hackathon 2023, a national competition that challenges students to create innovative solutions using cutting-edge technologies.

The winning team, Blind Eye, developed a mobile application that guides visually impaired people to walk around.

The app uses the camera to detect the surroundings and give voice instructions to the user, such as “turn right”, “stop”, or “avoid obstacle”. The app does not require an internet connection to function and aims to enhance the inclusivity and independence of the visually impaired.

Anne Joy Njoroge, one of the members of Blind Eye, said the inspiration for the app came from observing challenges faced by those with vision challenges.

“We have seen their problems as they walk around. There is Machakos Institute for the Blind right next to our school, where we see blind people around,” she said.

The Hackathon 2023, which began in 2019, brought together 14 universities from both private and public. The judges were impressed by the originality, scalability and social impact of the app.

Prof Anthony Waititu, a statistics lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and one of the judges, said that they were looking for 'ideas that can disrupt the way the world is learning'. He praised the students for their creativity and problem-solving abilities.

According to Kenya Airports Parking Services (KAPS) Chief Executive Officer Ngala Saronge the event was a success and a testament to the talent and innovation of Kenyan students.

“With the initiative, we are able to bring all the students’ talents to the fore, making sure we are able to link universities to the industry. We are happy to see that innovation is coming directly from the students,” he said.

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