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Geek for good, tech for future

By Liu Xuan | | Updated: 2017-04-26 00:24

Most of the time, deaf or mute people have trouble communicating with others if they do not know sign language. But what if there was device that could translate sign language into words printed on the screen of a mobile phone?

Geek for good, tech for future 

Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu, gives his opinion during the panel discussion.  

Huang Shuang and her Sign Out Loud team were awarded first prize for such an innovation at the Geek for Good Open Design Challenge, co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme and technology company Baidu in Beijing on Tuesday .

Their product, consisting of two wearable bands, can help deaf or mute people "talk" to others. The bands monitor the movement of forearms in sign language and then translate that into words. It can also record what people say and show the sentences on the band screen.

Nine other finalists also showed their projects to find solutions for development challenges in China.

Agi Veres, country director of UNDP China said: "The initiative reflects the power of innovation in the technology arena for creating new ideas that can help solve critical development issues. This event clearly highlights a depth of creativity, and the potential innovation has for promoting sustainable development in China."

The first Geek for Good Open Design Challenge was in December 2016, and attracted 2075 applications from almost every province in China and even from overseas. Ten projects were selected for the final.

The innovations ranged from a mechanical spider Arachnobot, deployable in disaster situations where human lives would be at risk, to Smart Med, a cheap alternative for early identification of lung cancer, to an app to support education.

Scientist Zhang Weili, 63, the oldest participant, and her team from Harvest Genius introduced an app to help farmers use fertilizer more efficiently.

Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu said: "Innovation has no boundaries, and responsibility extends to everyone. We initiated this plan with UNDP to create more opportunities for social development, and to support innovators, helping them realize their potential and help people in the process."

Veres said that UNDP will also follow up with some of the projects, and if feasible, it will cooperate with the private sector to promote the products in future.

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