The young inventor appeared before the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and members of the Polish Association of the Blind. The ceremony during which the 65th anniversary of the PAB and the 70th anniversary of the Association of the Movement of the Blind in Poland were also celebrated, took place on 20 October in Warsaw.
‘It’s very nice to get such an invitation, though I admit I’m a bit nervous’, said Petros Psyllos before visiting the Palace. ‘What is most important for me is the possibility to meet representatives of organisations helping blind and visually impaired people, and to make contacts with them. It is these people that I would like to help and the devices I construct are for them.’ Petros Psyllos has been cooperating with the Audiodeskrypcja Foundation from Bialystok for two years now, trying to get to know all the problems of the blind.
During the ceremony in Warsaw, Petros Psyllos gave a short presentation during which he demonstrated his two inventions: Neutrognet and MATIA.
Neutrognet, nicknamed virtual chalk by its constructor, is a signet ring worn on a finger. It is part of a system interpreting gestures and recognising letters and Braille code symbols, making it possible for blind users to create e.g. text messages. The invention won the Polish national Student Design Competition in 2015, and it has also received a special award from the Plus Business Incubator.
MATIA is a system that may be called an artificial eye. Using audio description, it informs blind users what is in front of them. The several sensors in a small box that can be attached, for example, to the user’s belt, collect information and constantly process it. The sound of a fog horn warns the user about obstacles, and a female voice describes people within the camera’s view. The device can connect to a Smartphone via Bluetooth. The most important awards for MATIA include: gold medal at the INPEX Trade Show in Pittsburgh, USA (2016), gold medal at the 115th Concours Lépine International Inventions Exhibition in Paris, France (2016), as well as gold medal and the main award of the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (2016). After winning the national finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2016, the MATIA system represented Poland in the world finals in Seattle, USA. Although Petros and his team did not reach the podium there, Microsoft Research decided to financially support the young inventor in his further work.
In March 2016, Petros Psyllos was a laureate of the ‘Best of the Best’ competition organised by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Two months later, he was listed in the Innovators Under 35 Poland list published by MIT Technology Review (a prestigious magazine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Since 2015, Petros Psyllos has been receiving a grant from the ‘Diamond Discoverers’ programme implemented by Bialystok University of Technology together with 13 businesses from the north-eastern Poland.