In the third of a series on the EW BrightSparks of 2017 we highlight Robert Green, a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate at Loughborough University.
Robert’s nominator hailed his “laser-focused ambition”, having spent a significant portion of his youth undertaking voluntary work with handicapped people, to engineer a better life for people with disabilities.
He has already demonstrated this to a very high degree.
During his placement, he worked on a novel project, which he called m(eye)DAQ (pronounced my-dack) – a digital letter-board-to-speech system, which enables paralysis sufferers to communicate using taps of their finger or blinks of their eye. He developed a fully-functioning prototype using discarded household items, including door bells, a pair of 3D cinema glasses, and a reverse parking sensor. He used NI LabVIEW to create some custom software that monitors user interactions, before translating detected taps and blinks into audible speech.
His work was featured in many outlets, including BBC, ITV, The Royal Institute and the Institute of Engineering Technology…
As a result of this work, Robert was then commissioned to develop a control system for a sailing boat, which will soon enable a young lady with athertoid cerebral palsy to steer the vessel across the English Channel using only her breath.
Robert has already created the control system, based on NI myRIO embedded controller, and will be installing the system on the boat this summer.
He was also invited to join a Loughborough University research team to create a cutting-edge augmented communication device that converts breathing patterns into speech.
Robert helped develop LabVIEW-based machine learning algorithms, allowing the device to intelligently interpret user’s breath patterns, before using voice synthesis to speak on their behalf. The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has granted funding and ethical approval, allowing the team’s revolutionary device to soon undergo patient-trials in hospital ITUs (Intensive Treatment Units).
Selection Panel comments:
Lindsley Ruth (CEO, RS Components) – Robert is the ultimate example of how engineering skill and achievement can be applied directly to improve the quality of life for people living with disability.
Isabella Mascarenhas (IET’s Young Professionals Engagement Manager) – It is heart-warming when you happen upon people like Robert whose brilliant mind and clear vision are firmly underpinned by his heart and improving the lives of others. So pleased that his noble ambitions have been recognised by others and his skills are in high demand. Robert is a wonderful example of how the upcoming talent can truly help to engineer a better world!