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The 2011 Image Cup competition has recently passed, and Arizona State’s Team Note-Taker took the silver medal in the Software Design competition. That was the best finish this year by an American team. And it’s well-deserved, too. A project that has been three years in the making, is designed to fill the need that hasn’t currently been met for low-vision students who’d like to succeed in college. Note- Taker, a tool for low-vision students.

Via Hack College:


As it currently stands, there’s no magic bullet for low-vision students to stand on an even playing field in a classroom setting. Manyuse small telescopes called monoculars to see the board, but the time it takes to pick it up, find the right spot on the board, memorize necessary information, and get it on paper puts these students at a disadvantage. Head mounted cameras are another option, but they alienate these students from their classmates, and hinder collaboration. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires legally blind students to be provided with a copy of class notes, but research has proven that writing down notes yourself dramatically improves recall.

These are the very issues that Team Note-Taker leader David Hayden, who is a legally blind student at Arizona State University, has had to deal with. Having to write down notes that filled up, on average, 20-30 whiteboards each class was becoming impossible for this math degree candidate. So he designed a solution to his problem.

The Note-Taker is a system in which a portable camera can pan, tilt, and zoom onto the whiteboard ahead, and it’s all controlled by a connected tablet PC. Half the tablet will display the camera’s view, and the other half will allow for space for the student to take notes. Even more, the system records the entire lecture to the tablet in real time, and it stores a time stamp for every word you write in your notes — perfect for review time. Though it is slightly pricey at $3000 for the prototype, the team plans to cut costs by 75% in the near future.

Microsoft has created a video to showcase the product and its meaning for low-vision students. It also features the team leader. Check it out below!


Photo courtesy of ImageCup via Flickr (CC BY 2.0). [via Hack College]