Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Teen's 'Eye' Invention Is Considered for Patent ; Helps Visually Impaired 'See' Objects Making the Grade

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Teen's 'Eye' Invention Is Considered for Patent ; Helps Visually Impaired 'See' Objects Making the Grade

Article excerpt

For years, Newburgh teenager Arjun Dhawan has been recognized for efforts that combine his love for science and engineering and his family's long tradition of helping those who are visually impaired. Now his latest project - aptly called The Third Eye - is up for patent consideration, thanks to an international young inventors competition sponsored in part by the Smithsonian.

Dhawan, who will be 15 soon, has a natural bent for science and engineering and a big heart for helping those in need. The teenager participated in science fairs while at Castle North Middle School and Castle High School. He will be a sophomore at Signature School this year.

In Hindustani, The Third Eye represents the sixth sense of perception beyond ordinary sight, and Dhawan's invention uses a three-dimensional sensor, voice recognition software and heaps of technical programming, to provide a "third eye" for those who are blind or visually impaired.

The plan, Dhawan said, was to create a device to help people maneuver with ease in a room or a new environment. By asking the system to "find a clock," or "find a water bottle," the "eye" will scan the room, lock on the object and tell the person wearing the sensor how far away and in what direction the object is. It took Dhawan about six to seven months to finish the project.

The Third Eye is an expansion of a project he began as a seventh grader at Castle North. He created a walking stick with sensors that beep as the stick comes closer to an object.

And it was his work with that project that made him decide to follow up with another invention to help the blind.

"I felt that I could do more than I already did," he said. "I just tried to expand on (my seventh grade project) and see what I could do."

Dhawan, a three-time Indiana state science fair winner and a veteran of several inventor competitions around the country, entered the project into the Smithsonian-Cricket Media Global Kids Invention Challenge. That contest pays for law firms to help students navigate the patent process. Dhawan has not been notified yet whether he has been approved for a patent, and is unsure when he will be.

Among the other Smithsonian-Media Cricket science fair winners are a solar-powered light-up dog leash; a portable sleeping and transportation device for the homeless; a school bus tracker for parents; a smoke mask delivery system and a steam-powered lawn mower.

Dhawan's idea for The Third Eye project came from his desire to help others. The "eye" is primitive now, Dhawan said, but it's a glimpse at what could be a life-changing technology in the future. The goal, he said, was to create a device that can give those who are visually impaired more independence and a better quality of life. …

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