UM-developed system to help visually impaired bus riders wins championship at IEEE international contest

UM-developed system to help visually impaired bus riders wins championship at international contest

A team from the University of Macau (UM) recently won the championship at the IEEE Mega-Challenge 2017: Smart Cities Competition, which was part of the IEEE RFID 2017 Conference, for their project ‘UHF RFID Based Gesture Control System for Smart City Transportation’. The system uses radio frequency identification to help visually impaired people communicate with the bus station via simple gesture control.

The competition was organised by the IEEE Council on Radio Frequency Identification, the largest academic institution on radio frequency identification. The theme of the competition was applications and innovations of RFID techniques in smart cities. The competition recruited proposals and contestants from all over the world. Four teams were selected to advance to the final held in Phoenix, United States. The system developed by the UM team uses radio frequency identification to help visually impaired people communicate with the bus station via simple gesture control. Led by Prof Tam Kam-Weng and Dr Lao Keng-Weng from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the UM team consisted of Zhang Wenhai, a doctoral student from the same department; and Lou Wan-Ian, a student from Scared Heart Canossian College (English Section) who received training in the department.

The proposal is the first one in the world that analyses the relationship between the energy absorption of an antenna and the passive RFID tags. It proposes the nonlinear energy absorption phenomenon of the RFID tags in vertical and horizontal positions. In an extension of the findings, the UM team proposed installing the system in the canes used by visually impaired people to allow them to operate the system with simple gestures (horizontal or vertical). During the competition, contestants were required to present their proposals to experts within a specified time frame and answer questions from the experts. Through several rounds of competitions, the presentation and proposal made by the UM team received unanimous praise from the judges and won the championship.

The teams from the United States, mainland China, and Australia were the first runner-up, second runner-up, and third runner-up, respectively. The UM team was invited to present their proposal in the poster section of the IEEE RFID 2017 Conference. The proposal will also be included in the conference proceedings.

Lou Wan-Ian, the only middle school student from the UM team, was the champion of an innovation concept competition held earlier under a talent development programme co-organised by UM’s Science Promotion Center and the Macao Science and Technology Development Fund. Because of her excellent performance, she was invited to join the UM team at the competition.

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