Imagine Cup calls for vision, ASU students deliver

If the world's premier student technology competition calls for innovative vision, then there may be no technology better suited than the Note-Taker.

Invented by David Hayden during his undergraduate career in ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the Note-Taker is a device designed to aid the visually impaired in a classroom setting, by way of a portable, custom-designed video camera and a split-screen Tablet PC.

"The Note-Taker works by providing a low-vision student with a view of their notes and a view of the board at the same time," said Hayden, also a low-vision student, who struggled to keep up with note-taking in class and saw a chance to improve access to educational opportunities for visually impaired students.

Helping Hayden bring his vision into sharper focus are fellow engineering students Parth Pandya, Qian Yan, Shashank Srinivas and Michael Astrauskas, and mentor John Black, a research scientist at ASU.

Team Note-Taker is bound for New York City to compete July 8-13 as worldwide finalists in Microsoft's Imagine Cup 2011. The goal of the prestigious competition is to encourage students to come up with technologies that solve global problems, while learning skills that will prepare them as future IT leaders.

To view and vote for the Note-Taker, and other student-created technologies, visit the Imagine Cup's People's Choice site.

Of the 20 million low-vision adults in the United States, according to Hayden, fewer than 40 percent participate in the work force – a figure that the team largely attributes to the inaccessibility of education.

"One of the real motivators for the team is that they're really hoping that this can be produced as a product and made available to students with visual disabilities," said Black, who works in ASU's Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) – a research center focused on developing assistive multimedia computing applications, such as the Note-Taker.

Currently a graduate student, Hayden is preparing to continue his graduate studies at MIT in the fall.

Justine Garcia
Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development