An RMIT team has won the creativity award at TADHack, the world’s largest telecommunications hackathon, with a solution to improve computer accessibility for people with vision and hearing issues.
Team Roya, a word meaning "dream" in Persian, was made up of four RMIT Computer Science and Information Technology students and alumni.
Roya won the Melbourne prize for the Creativity Award and were nominated for the global award at TADHack, a global event streamed live around the world from Melbourne, with an audience and judging panel comprising industry leaders including Telstra and Oracle.
The team joined other students and engineers at the two-day hackathon and worked together to find solutions that could help people living with disabilities or limitations to better engage with the community.
Roya proposed a cloud-based solution to make it easier for people with vision and hearing limitations to use computers.
More than 350,000 Australians are colour blind, one in six has a vision problem and one in eight has hearing difficulties. These can be major hurdles for navigating computers.
Roya used the challenge as a way to attempt to improve the lives of these people, by producing better user translations and interactions through interface customisation.
The group proposed a platform to collect real-time data to assist with user interaction, to increase accessibility and engagement.
Team member Rongjun Xie is in his second year of a Master of Science (Computer Science) by research.
"It was a really good opportunity to develop personal skills, not only in terms of technique but also communication, coordination, collaboration," Xie said.
"This experience undoubtedly adds colour to our future resumes.
"The things we learned in TADHack are highly valuable by helping us improve in different areas, especially in communication and presentation."
"The last and most important thing I learned is that technology should find a suitable way to help people have a better life."
Sonya Zhao, a graduate of the Master of Information Technology, was also a member of the group.
"TADHack is a very impressive and inspiring experience," she said.
"It taught me the importance of team work and helped my motivation towards exploring cutting edge technology and more innovative ways to solve problems."
Ali Yavari, sessional staff member in the School of Science, formed and led the team.
For Yavari, the most important aspect of the TADHack experience is for students to learn skills in entrepreneurship, and overcome any challenges that are thrown their way, as the solutions can expand beyond Hackathon.
"The group is about dynamic two-way interactions between the teacher and students, with student engagement trying to go a step further by tackling real problems that are impactful for society," he said.
"The main objective is to prepare the students for job hunting and entrepreneurship and to provide them a great experience that will be helpful for the future."
Story: Andie Phillips