Grand Challenges Student, Philip Bale, Inventure Prize Finalist

September 24, 2016

Atlanta, GA

The Inventure Prize at Georgia Tech is a yearly competition hosted by the GT faculty, designed to allow creative students at Tech to show off their ideas in a competition for the ultimate prize of a free US patent (via GT’s Office of Technology Licensing), twenty-thousand dollars for the whole team, and acceptance into a GT business creation and innovation program. The final round is held in front of an audience of over a thousand and televised for an additional fifty-thousand people. The competition is fierce especially because of the three-hundred inventors who initially begin the competition, only eight make it into the final competition.

This year, Grand Challenge’s own second year, Philip Bale, is a member of one of the finalist teams, Haplit. They initially identified a problem within the community of the blind. Team Haplit found that only 8.5% of the blind are able to use Braille, which creates a large barrier to the education of the visually-impaired, a barrier that is further exacerbated by the large deficit of braille teachers and materials that are produced in braille.

In order to combat this, the team developed the Haplit Device, a small gadget that works in conjunction with a Haplit Smart-Device app. An educator can simply type what they want the student to read into the Haplit App, which will then transmit to the Haplit Device the braille translation and display the lines in braille, so that they can be read by the visually-impaired student. The student can respond by writing back in braille on the same device, which will in turn translate and then transmit the alpha-numeric response back to the Haplit App. This method circumvents many of the issues that have long held back the blind community’s higher education process, especially since most comparable devices are extremely complex and expensive.

Team Haplit draw their name from the concept of Haptic Literacy, or reading via the sense of touch. They consist of Philip Bale, a 2nd year Computer Science major, Chandler Matz, a 2nd year Computer Engineering major, and Megan Fechter, a 2 year Business Administration major. They will go to the final round of competition on April 1st 2015.

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