Youths create app for seniors with dementia to navigate Woodlands train & bus interchange

No more getting lost.

| Zi Shan Kow | Sponsored | October 28, 2022, 10:44 AM

Have you ever gotten lost in a bus or MRT interchange?

For a senior with mild cognitive impairment, simply leaving the house can be a huge challenge as they are at great risk of losing their way.

When a group of four NUS researchers, aged 27 to 31, heard this experience recounted by a 54-year-old Queenstown resident, they realised the need for transport systems to be more dementia-friendly and rose to the challenge.

Getting lost

Though Singapore is well connected, it can be hard for senior commuters to find their way around.

In the past four years, more than 388 cases of seniors with dementia losing their way while using public transport were reported in Singapore.

The people that the team spoke to helped them realise the problem was twofold.

Complex interchanges were challenging to navigate due to the lack of underground landmarks and the overwhelming signages.

The team, composed of four digital health researchers, said they “wanted to challenge ourselves to design something outside of the healthcare system”.

They came up with a phone application for commuters that need help navigating using Augmented Reality (AR).

Simply input your destination, and the app will show you the way.

The user-friendly interface would be available in multiple languages, with audio and visual cues for differently abled individuals.

It also has built-in safety features so seniors can share their journey with others.

The quartet named their idea MANGO, which stands for Mobile Assistive Navigation for Guiding Older commuters.

With this proposal, the team won S$5,000 prize money at Huawei’s Tech4City Competition, which they plan to use to continue developing MANGO.

With the help of Huawei’s machine learning kit and cloud, the MANGO app can locate users in the interchange using bluetooth speakers and image recognition.

Huawei’s AR library will also help them to generate displays like these:

The team members, whose day jobs involve using technology to provide remote personalised care to patients, said the competition helped them learn how to better consider the needs of their user base.

“Technology that is intuitive to us may not be intuitive for our intended population,” said the team.

The team hopes to pilot MANGO at Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub (ITH), the island’s largest interchange, and eventually expand into other transport hubs in Singapore.

Solutions for a better cultural market and deaf inclusivity

Another team that shared the podium with MANGO at the competition finals on Sep. 27 was Homegrown Heroes.

The group of three young adults said they took inspiration during their wedding preparation which introduced them to a “rich cultural market” consisting of tailors, ring-makers, cobblers, florists and photographers.

They ideated a platform for customers and artisanal merchants to boost Singapore’s cultural landscape and to help consumers to make more informed decisions.

Finally, the grand prize of S$10,000 went to a team of NUS students who developed a translation programme for the Deaf.

They developed an AI-driven smart glove and programme capable of translating sign language into text/voice and vice versa.

Working with SG Enable, SMRT and SPD, the See Your Voice team plans to deploy their solution in Singapore this year, priced as S$10 a month.

Tech4City Competition

Held for the first time, this year’s Huawei Tech4City Competition attracted 368 participants from local universities and polytechnics, saw 141 team proposals relating to three themes: Neighbour, Nature and Culture.

The ideation competition empowers youth to come up with innovative solutions for a more sustainable and livable Singapore using digital technologies.

Huawei is investing US$50 million to cultivate 500,000 talents through talent development initiatives by 2026 as part of its five-year plan.

Eligible Tech4City finalist teams can also be fast-tracked to Huawei’s Seeds for the Future programme and potentially earn an internship with Huawei.

“Tech4City was conceptualised to empower local youths with the tools to take control of their future by building ideas to create interconnected, sustainable and ultimately, a better Singapore,” said CEO of Huawei International Foo Fang Yong.

Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth and Minister of State for Trade and Industry was the guest-of-honour at the event.

She said that the competition is an “excellent platform for our youths to brainstorm and develop ideas to tackle salient and urgent issues” that “raises our youth’s awareness of how digitalization and sustainability can be positive forces in solving today’s challenges and bringing our world forward”.

The Tech4City Competition is held annually. If you have an interesting idea to pitch for the competition, you can keep an eye out for registrations here.

This is a sponsored article by Huawei.