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Uganda Innovates

These young Ugandans have created an app that assists the blind to enjoy their phones

These young Ugandans;  David  Lwangwa Mwesigwa 22  – Graphics Designer and Team Lead, Mubiru Joel  22– In charge, Research, Chemyolei Paul  22– Business Development Guy and Moris Atwine 21 – Software Development Lead have come together to develop a mobile phone app that seeks to help the blind people use their mobile phone without any assistance.  David’s brother became blind when he was 10. This unfortunate incident turned into questions that David sought to solve. He felt bad that even as his brother grew older and owned a mobile phone, there are those basics that his brother could not enjoy. He met amazing friends at Makerere university that he has worked with to create Visual+. Visual+ is a gesture based interaction and voice commands mobile application that helps a visually impaired person to manage the frequently used applications on phones as making calls and accessing music files.

What in the world is Visual+?

Many times, human rights are echoed in our ears about how it’s our right to have freedom of speech, right to life and more often we hear that major right, a right to education.

Visual+ is simply an easy to use gesture based interaction and voice commands mobile application that manages the most frequently used applications on a mobile device.

 How does doe this awesome app work?

Visual+ works in such way that, a user (visually impaired person) is required to be putting on headsets at the time of initiation to clearly listen to the voice prompts and to enhance your interaction with the app as it uses voice.

To initiate, the user shuffles the mobile device which activates the application.

There are four features on the home screen which include phone, music, notes and personal.

So,

  • By swiping to the right, the gesture helps the user to access prerecorded audio notes that are stored on the mobile device as audio books, quotes and many more.
  • A user swiping down, this gesture brings a lot of personalization tools that can be used by the user such as recording their own notes or speeches. A user is then prompted to swipe the screen to a given direction for app to register their choice for example swiping screen to the right to make a recording of their own.
  • By swiping to the left, the gesture helps the user access his or her music, reading material. A list of all these choices is displayed on screen, also echoed in user’s ear piece. The user will then swipe to the left in order to listen to the music list, or swipe to the right to play the stored music.
  • By swiping up, this gesture displays the phone menu where a user can add a phone number and be able to make a call of his/her choice using voice prompts. For example call Moris, once it’s saved, it processes the call automatically.
  • For a user to go back to a previous screen as well exit the application, he / she simply double taps the screen.

What problems does it seek to solve?

World health Organization (1997) estimated the number of visually impaired people worldwide to be 135 million.

Focusing on Uganda as a country, the number of visually impaired people has gone up to 1 million from 700,000 people (National Union of Disabled Persons, 2008). This group of people also has the required facilities that are not readily accessible in various parts of the country. More to this, the students with these facilities also have a challenge in accessing reading material for the blind, printing notes in brail or even playing educative games. Visual impairment is a great challenge worldwide.

What other opportunities do you think this app is likely to create?

Yes, Partnerships with telecom companies as well as phone companies!

Where do you draw your inspiration?

One of our team members, David has a brother who is blind, he has seen him fail to achieve most of the things and so thought he would really change such pressing problem through innovation. He then teamed up with Joel, Paul and Moris and that was the birth of Visual+.

What is your greatest achievements so far?

We were able to pitch it at the Humanitarian Innovation Exhibition Last Month, the feedback was promising, basically how it would be of great help to people in refugee camps and disaster affected areas.

Mainly, we haven’t really achieved much with this mobile app, we are still testing it with different groups to clearly understand how the blind or people with low vision can interface with these smart phones.

Does tech have a future in Uganda? 

Technology in Uganda is like a child, ambitious and inquisitive. That’s why it’s really growing very fast

 Are there times you have wanted to give up?

Not on the Visual+ app because passion is all we have for technology and there is a lot to be solved really. All in all, We are  not about to give up.

 What keeps you going during tough times?

We have the best solutions to most of these social problems affecting us, this may not necessarily be through technology, innovation as a process can have a considerable effort in changing most of problems we face, and in the end become our businesses.

What other projects have you worked on?

As a group, we haven’t worked on other mobile applications but some of the members Moris and David are among the brains behind the timely response and early diagnosis breast cancer management app called “BreastIT”. More info to this app is available on the project’s blog site www.thehyphengloveproject.wordpress.com

 Any last words to the reader?

We have never set out  to become  founder or co-founders of a great innovation, we always seek to tackle most of these pressing problems in and around our community” – Moris Atwine, Co-Founder and Software Development Lead, Visual+.

 

Screenshot of the visual app

Screenshot of the visual app

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. abdoulayebah

    July 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Just genius!

  2. abdoulayebah

    July 28, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    It’s awesome! My fear is that these inventions are copied and produced industrially without recognizing to their inventors any copyright and the hoped profits. Is there any mechanism at the national level to help them channel their invention to industrial production? Are they informed of the international competition for young African inventors? Do they know the existence of this: http://www.ifia.com/en/2014-10-08-05-10-10/african-inventors/item/239-about-african-network

  3. sam

    July 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Wow, dats wat I call hard work + smart brains… Kip goin for de sky is de limit. God will ultimately reward u.

  4. emmskamanyire

    August 5, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Reblogged this on emmsbackpack and commented:
    Amazing!!!

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Purely Ugandan

Y+ Beauty Pageant: This Pageant Aims at Fighting Stigma And Discrimination of Young People Living With HIV

On 25th September, the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) launched the 7th edition of the Y+ beauty pageant under the theme “Changing The Narrative.” 

The new Mr. and Miss Y+ Central region 2020/21

The Y+ Beauty Pageant is a novel concept that was developed to celebrate beauty with zero stigma and zero discrimination together with having zero new infections and having zero AIDS related deaths. The entertainment calendar has several beauty pageants and, one of which is the Y+ Beauty Pageant that has been on for the last seven years.

The beauty pageant has, over the years, served as a platform to young men and women (16 to 25 years) living with HIV to become voices to the voiceless, pillars of boldness and strength to those still afraid of HIV testing, these young people also share testimonies of assurance that acquiring HIV is not the end of life. Which is not that easy.

Nicholas Niwagaba the team leader at UNYPA speaking at one of the Y+ Beauty Pageant pre-events

“Our mandate is to better the lives of young people living with HIV/AIDS (YPLHIV), and we boldly take it upon ourselves to ensure that we fight stigma through the Y+ Beauty Pageant. Over the years we have managed to position young people in the fight against stigma and in so doing, HIV,” said Nicholas Niwagaba, the team leader at UNYPA.

The COVID- 19 virus has worsened stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS, the current pandemic threatens to reverse the accomplishments that have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

As soon as the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Uganda on 19th March 2020, strict lockdown measures were enforced, including a ban on all public and private transport, night curfew, closure of schools, suspension of religious and social gatherings, and closure of non-essential shops and markets.

UNYPA ambassadors were supported with transport as well as bicycles to conduct the door to door home visits for fellow YPLHIV, face to face conversations, SMS for psycho social support to ensure adherence and positive living among YPLHIV.

UNYPA therefore, organizes the 2020 Y+ beauty pageant for YPLHIV in order to re-echo their voices, co- create to build a strong, energetic, creative, and productive generation able to address the multiple dimensions in which stigma and discrimination affect young peoples through raising awareness and empowering Y+ Ambassadors both male & female as champions to challenge HIV related stigma, discrimination & gender based violence within their communities. 

The Y-Plus pageant model in Uganda is now a nationally and international recognized and awarded model for a successful fight against HIV related stigma and discrimination, increasing awareness on HIV prevention but of more critical concern still largely remains unaddressed the problem of stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS and society’s attitude to it is still a big concern.

The contest doesn’t focus on looks or beauty, but on a young positive person being a role model for other young people with HIV, on being able to advocate for the needs of young people, and to increase acceptance and understanding of young people living with HIV in society.

Through its yearly cycle, the Y+ Beauty Pageant has so far bred over 844 ambassadors who are part of a generation of YPLHIV youth champions advocating for and working towards an HIV stigma-free Uganda. The campaign shall be staggered in three stages: regional auditions; central- Kampala, eastern- Kamuli, western- Kabale and northern- Kwania followed by the boot camp, and a grand finale event on Friday 20th November 2020. 

About UNYPA

UNYPA is a youth led and youth serving organization coordinating meaningful engagement of young people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in Uganda in the National, Regional and Global HIV/AIDS response.  With a membership of over 50,000 young people; UNYPA works to implement National Evidence-driven Advocacy programs that address HIV/AIDS related stigma and discriminations, Gender inequalities and promote Young People’s empowerment and universal access to integrated SRHR (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS information and services. UNYPA is driven by the needs of young people living with HIV and implements an evidence informed national programme and advocacy for YPLHIV to lead healthy and productive lives. 

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Uganda Innovates

The Golazo Project: A Hat Trick For Poverty Alleviation, Promises to Create Over 10,000 Jobs For Ugandan Youths, and Boost Productivity of 1.8million SMEs

The Golazo Project is a local initiative being undertaken by Golazo Sports Limited to create a minimum of 10,000 jobs for the youths in Uganda as well as a practical approach to increasing productivity of 1.8million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by at least 30%;

thereby facilitating the transformation of the nation’s economy to shift from peasantry towards middle income status.

The ultimate goal of the project is to empower SMEs, and young people with tools, capacity building, coaching, and offering them a platform through which they can achieve their sustainable goals so they in turn can support other young people.

The Project is subdivided into three platforms; Gigs, Ug Tickets, and Bonga!.

Gigs 

According to their website, ‘Gigs’ is an online platform focussed on addressing the challenge of unemployed youth by linking them to hiring SMEs for freelance jobs, and offering training courses to enhance their capacities for productivity.

As the word ‘gig’ suggests, this is not a full time form of employment, however, it offers young people a chance to get freelance jobs, improving their work experience, as well as earning them survival money.

This is expected to create about 105 jobs for young people per week.

Ug Tickets

UG Tickets provides a modern, easy, convenient and most importantly a service tailored to the local market.This helps service providers and SMEs reach an average audience of over 50,000 potential clients per week and handling an average of Ugx152 Million in transactions per year thus creating about 112 jobs for young people each month.

You too could add your ticketed event to the platform at no cost here >> https://www.ugtickets.com/

Bonga!

Commonly taken as a greeting among many people, Bonga shouldn’t surprise you. This is a network of community based Libraries in green spaces to tap into the transformational power of the internet to inspire learning and innovations with a capacity to create 224 jobs per month and generate about Ugx252 Million in annual gross revenues.

If well executed, and supported, the Golazo Project has the capacity to create over 10,000 jobs for young people in Uganda, and this is just what we might need to reach middle income status as well as alleviate the high levels of unemployment in Uganda.

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Uganda Innovates

Makerere University Students Build Computer from Scratch

BY MARVIN MUTYABA & ISAIAH NGABIRANO

Computers today have become part of our lives that basically most of the things we need are in these machines. With so many benefits like quick information and communication, entertainment, entrepreneurship, activism and so much more, the computer use has become an extension of the human fabric.

The growing movement of digital migration in the world has opened a worldwidedemandfor innovation and inventionwhich has given rise to the exceptional programmers and inventors who have created appliances and tools that have revolutionized the way we do everything. This picture features Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Nikola Tesla among other inventors.

In Uganda, a group of youths have added their names to this list by building an organic computer, using their knowledge from school and exposure to computers.

The group is spear headed by Ivan Karugaba Junior, a student of mechanical engineering at Makerere University who gained inspiration to develop a computer through personal experiences

One evening at campus my computer was stolen and this got me asking myself why couldn’t I develop my own computer since that’s what we learn in class,” he narrates “Developing the first prototype of the computer was not an easy one and it involved a lot of research and commitment from the team. There were so many lows but we worked as a team and persisted until we came up with a functioning computer, it was a huge achievement to us.

The mother board of the microfuse computer

Having done his internship in Shenzhen,the high-tech hub of China, Ivan gained a lot of experience in developing computers and established some connections as well. This has helped in steering the development of their computer.

When he returned from the one month internship, Ivan decided to start acompany with some colleagues from school, Ochieng Elvis a computer engineer, Etwalu Emmanuel a mechanical engineer, AineamaniTwesigye a software engineer and Nyakoojo Oscar an industrial artist which they called Microfuse, after their computer.

Microfuse is a multipurpose device that can function as a computer at the same time as a media box with the capability to use a low power consumption of a rate of 5w connected to any display, projector, monitor or TV and a computing functionality as Microsoft office. It can also turn any TV into a smart TV, enable access to online connection, live TV and radio channels. All these marvelous features are to come at a simple price of UGX 350,000 (USD 96) with all the necessary accessories attached.

Microfuse basically means joining small parts together to come up with one strong and reliable equipment.” He says. “Microfuse’s aim is to make affordable computers to the normal Ugandan. I believe that every Ugandan deserves to own a computer. It’s absurd to find that someone studies computer in their A-level and the only time they get to use a computer is when they are doing their final papers which is not pleasing and this is majorly because the current devices are expensive and most Ugandans live below the poverty line you cannot expect them to afford these devices.

Ivan however states that the microfuse will be ready for distribution after the team embarks on batch production, which they haven’t been able to do due to the lack of funding and support for their project. He however,believes that the funding will eventually come in the near future since people have started appreciating their motive and the products they intend to produce through the numerous exhibitions that they have participated in.

Ivan (left) at one of the exhibitions

The team has also started a training program to help young Ugandans who are ready to learn and attain some skills in mechanical and computer engineering.In this way, the group is able to transfer knowledge to these youths which they can use in their innovations.

The microfuse team on one of the trainings

Microfuse is located in Wandegeya, Maricha Centrum Building, Ground Floor, office number A3. Tel: +256772292171Email: microfuseug@gmail.comWebsite: www.microfusetechug.com

 

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