A 17-year-old science student from Nottingham will see her technology idea turned into a working prototype after winning the All Aboard accessible transport competition.
Daria Buszta, an AS-Level student at Nottingham’s Bilborough College, was named the competition’s winner on Friday after impressing an expert panel of judges, headed by Transport Minister Baroness Kramer.
Run by the Transport Systems Catapult on behalf of the Department for Transport, the competition invited students aged between 14-18 to come up with innovative solutions to make buses more accessible for people with visual or hearing impairments.
Buszta’s “ViBus” design involves Bluetooth-enabled wristbands that can be handed out by bus drivers, and which vibrate when a passenger approaches his or her stop.
“It was amazing,” said Buszta, after receiving the All Aboard trophy, along with a winner’s cheque for £1,000, at the competition final held at the Birmingham NEC as part of this year’s Big Bang fair for young scientists and engineers.
“I didn’t expect at all to get into the final, so when my name was called out I was just really surprised and excited and thankful to everyone who voted for me and who realised that this idea has a future.
Simple to use
“When I was working on my idea, I just thought about how people with visual or hearing impairments need a device that is simple to use. They don’t want something that makes their journey even more stressful, so I thought about using vibrations because that is accessible for both the visually and the hearing impaired.”
Buszta saw off strong competition from four other finalists, whose designs ranged from a combined e-ink/braille display to smart watch devices and interactive bus stops which can alert bus drivers when disabled passengers are waiting to board their buses.
“All five entries were fantastic and all of them had something to offer that I think the Transport Systems Catapult is going to follow up on,” said Baroness Kramer, as she summarised the thoughts of a judging panel which also comprised Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Vice President Lord Low, hearing impaired musician Teresa Morini, National Express Bus Development Director Martin Hancock and Mobile Onboard Non-Executive Director Corbin Adler.
“Daria gave a very clear presentation and came up with a very simple answer to this complicated problem. And what really impressed me was how the transport specialists on our panel – the people who know all about existing bus technology and all the cost issues – could also see that this idea is very simple, discreet and cost-effective, that it has huge potential, and that it works for both the visually and hearing impaired.”
With the support of the Department for Transport, the Transport Systems Catapult will now look to work with a small or medium-sized technology company to turn Buszta’s idea into a working prototype.
“That’s the really exciting part,” Buszta said, “because I believe my project has a big future and I want the people with visual and hearing impairments to have the same opportunities on buses and public transport as the rest of us.”
For more information about the All Aboard Competition, please see the competition website.