Student-developed App Helps Visually Impaired Cross Street

August 8, 2019
Kevin Hattori

Roni Ash and Dolev Ofri, both of whom are students from the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, have developed an innovative application expected to significantly assist the visually impaired and the blind. The app was presented at the 2018 ICSEE International Conference in Eilat, Israel, and won the Thomas Schwartz Outstanding Project Award.

From Left: Roni Ash, Ayelet Cohen, Dolev Ofri, and Yair MOshe

The app allows visually impaired pedestrians to safely cross the street at a traffic light. It recognizes the pedestrian traffic light and notifies the user of its color. The user is only required to point the phone camera in the desired general direction; it does not need to be accurate.  The app notifies the user if it is safe to cross. The need for the development of such assistive technology is especially great in cases where there is no audio indication for the blind.

The app’s high credibility is based on deep learning, training an artificial neural network that learns to identify the traffic light color based on a large set of traffic light examples. The dataset used for training the system was built by the students who developed the app as an undergraduate final project in the Signal and Image Processing Laboratory (SIPL) of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, headed by Professor David Malah and Laboratory Engineer Nimrod Peleg. They performed the project under the guidance of Laboratory Engineer Yair Moshe and also received help from student Ayelet Cohen. The project is a collaboration of the lab with the social hub at the Technion.

For more than a century, the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology has pioneered in science and technology education and delivered world-changing impact. Proudly a global university, the Technion has long leveraged boundary-crossing collaborations to advance breakthrough research and technologies. Now with a presence in three countries, the Technion will prepare the next generation of global innovators. Technion people, ideas, and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world, innovating in fields from cancer research and sustainable energy to quantum computing and computer science to do good around the world.

The American Technion Society supports visionary education and world-changing impact through the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. Based in New York City, we represent thousands of US donors, alumni, and stakeholders who invest in the Technion’s growth and innovation to advance critical research and technologies that serve the State of Israel and the global good. Over more than 75 years, our nationwide supporter network has funded new Technion scholarships, research, labs, and facilities that have helped deliver world-changing contributions and extend Technion education to campuses in three countries.