A prototype of a glove that alerts blind people of the proximity of objects has won first prize in the inaugural Entrepreneurship and Business Competition run by Nottingham University Business School (NUBS) at The University of Nottingham and Sainsbury Management Fellows (SMF). The SenSei Glove uses ultrasonic sensor technology to provide vibration cues on the distance from objects.
The SenSei team set out to create a product that can help blind and partially sighted people sense the distance of objects without having to undergo a lot of training. The SenSei prototype glove features an ultrasonic senor on the back of the glove. The battery operated ultrasonic senor emits different levels of sound depending on how physically close the wearer is to an object. A good analogy is the sound of a car’s parking sensor.
The SenSei team is now working on the ergonomics with a view to making the ultrasonic senor smaller and lightweight so that the glove is very comfortable to wear. The team hopes to gain a business development grant to help with the ongoing development.
Unlike other business competitions which focus on developing a traditional business plan, the NUBS/SMF competition challenges undergraduate students to create a novel product concept that meets a real need in society. Competitors also had to demonstrate use of engineering skills in the creative process.
Coming a close second in the competition was a team of international students who addressed the problem of feeling unsafe when walking in unfamiliar places. The team developed GPSafe, an impressive mobile app solution. Whereas most GPS apps provide users with the shortest route, GPSafe combines GPS technology with readily available public safety data to give users information on the safest walking route.
Team SenSei won £1,000 and life-time mentoring from SMF while Team GPSafe picked up a cheque for £500
Chris Mahon, Deputy Director of MBA Programmes at Nottingham University Business School said: “We are pleased that SMF has sponsored and supported this new competition as part of the Entrepreneurship and Business module. Engineering skills are incredibly important in business and the competition is a great incentive for engineering students to develop entrepreneurial skills. The judges and I were impressed by the creative ideas and passion for making a difference demonstrated by all who took part, so choosing the winners was difficult. Congratulations to the SenSei and GPSafe teams.”
The other product concept entries were:
- MUC: A novel product to clean cosmetic brushes for better hygiene
- Bliss Wrist: A device that improves sleeping patterns
- Wrist Watch: A telemedicine device
- Gym Time: An app to help choose the best time to visit a local gym
SMF President and Visiting Professor in Sustainable Wealth Creation at NUBS, David Falzani said: “We want to inspire young engineers to get more involved in business innovation. The imaginative entries show that engineering skills are well-suited to the creation of new business ideas. We’re aiming to make the Entrepreneur and Business Competition an annual affair.”
Sainsbury Management Fellows
The Sainsbury Management Fellows’ MBA Scholarship scheme enables engineers to gain a business education at a prestigious business school in order to pursue leadership careers in blue-chip companies or, alternatively, to create technology-led enterprises. There are more than 300 such Fellows creating jobs and economic wealth in the UK.
University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, in the top 10 for student experience according to the Times Higher Education and one of the world’s greenest universities. It is ranked in the World’s Top 75 universities by the QS World University rankings.