Brooklyn Tech students Alison Collard de Beaufort, Benjamin Spiegel, Riccardo Monico and Hanin Dari testing their app for Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow competition.
Smartwatches can track your steps and check for Twitter updates, but can they save lives? A new app developed by a team of high school students through Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow competition promises to do just that by warning the wearer when a car is quickly approaching so they can get out of the away.
The app uses the microphone included in Samsung's smartwatch to recognize approaching sound waves, specifically the sound of a car engine coming right at you. In response, the app will emit a loud alarm while a warning message appears on the display, giving the wearer chance to step back and avoid a possible collision.
The software was developed for Samsung's Tizen operating system, but it could be ported over to Android Wear and possibly even the Apple Watch. Eventually, it could help anyone, from a young child to a person with disabilities, avoid a fatal collision.
The idea was originally thought up by Alison Collard de Beaufort, a student at prestigious New York public high school Brooklyn Tech, after three of her friends were tragically hit by cars and killed within a span of 15 months. In response, she reached out to the mayor's office and started looking for ways to stop the same thing from happening again through the Vision Zero project, a worldwide effort to end car fatalities.
"The entire community was devastated," she told TechnoBuffalo. "So I started the Vision Zero Youth Council."
At around the same time, Samsung was looking for a new crop of school projects for its annual Solve for Tomorrow competition. The contest rewards projects that deal with a local issue using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and offers a big prize. The top five teams get $120,000 in technology to improve their schools while the rest of the finalists each receive $40,000 in technology from the company.
Picking the winning project wasn't an obvious choice. When Brooklyn Tech first decided to enter the contest the school's 5500 students sent in 50 different proposals. Richard Capozzi, an English teacher who organized the effort, combed through all the suggestions with help from the physics department before picking what he thought was a winner. For a self-described tech novice, he made a pretty good decision.
'Ultimately I chose what I thought would be the most successful," he said. "The one with the best chance of winning because it was the most thorough and solid. And I was right because we kept winning."
After making it through multiple rounds of competition, Brooklyn Tech is already guaranteed a pretty big prize. All that Samsung technology will be used in classrooms and extracurricular activities around the school, but the group's main goal is still to help raise awareness for what's becoming a serious issue in New York and around the world.
"As you can tell from our story the issue of pedestrian fatalities has gotten very bad and something needs to be done about it," Capozzi said. "This was Alison's way of fighting back. She's a very strong young women."
Samsung's final pitch event takes place on Tuesday in NYC. You can see the full list of finalists via the source link below.