9 February 2016

How animated moustaches and the Australian tree frog will help change the world

Samuel Kantor has a wicked sense of humour and a passion for helping people with disabilities connect with the world around them.

Samual Kantor – BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards

Show transcript

Samual Kantor – BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards 2016-SD

[Image changes to show flashing pictures of the award recipients on screen]

[Music plays and text appears on screen: BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards 2016]

[Image changes to show Samual running]

Samual: I think it’s really important for us to stop inequality in education. If we give every child a proper education the world could be a much better place in the future.

I’m Sam Kantor, I’m 17 years old and I go to Moriah College.

[Image changes to show Sam seated and talking to the camera. Text appears: Samual Kantor, Moriah College NSW]

So many disabled people require assistive technology to control their computer, but at this stage, for upper body paralysis the equipment required is extremely specialised and therefore expensive.

[Image changes to show inserts of Sam’s project]

Eye Connect aims to use minimal hardware to create new and innovative solutions that allow people to control their computer with just a standard webcam, it includes the first cross platform motion based human computer interface, as well as the first purely blinked based human computer interface, offering new ways for people in low socioeconomic areas to control their computer.

[Image continues to show inserts of Sam’s project]

In initial tests I found that the blink detection had an accuracy of 99 per cent, which is amazing because there’s never really been that level of reliability on a blink detection algorithm based on just a common place webcam, and also, both systems are real-time solutions.

So after school I really want to study a computer science degree, I like to work on natural language process in applications and develop more the knowledge on artificial intelligence. Over the past a hundred years science has only been growing exponentially and I feel like this new era of science in our generation, it’s really just going to change the way that we operate our lives and it’s very exciting.

[Image changes to show Sam strumming an electric guitar]

I feel like every child needs a chance to have a proper education so that we can break the poverty cycle in the world. Some of the next cures for cancer, the next scientific developments could be in the mind of an African child who has never had a proper education.

[Image changes to show Sam patting a dog]

Our perspective of the world is always changing, I mean, it’s just amazing and it’s really… there’s nothing more exciting than science.

[Image has changed back to show Sam seated and talking to the camera]

[Image shows text: BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards 2016]

[Image changes to show sponsors logos appear on screen]

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He's just taken out second place in the engineering category of the prestigious BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards for school students.

While studying an accelerated semester of computer science at the University of NSW, Samuel created a program that uses a webcam to draw moustaches on people's faces.

Using his new found power for good, he developed Eye Connect to help people with disabilities control their computer.

Samuel said the assistive technology required for people with disabilities to use their computers is extremely specialised and expensive.

"Eye Connect aims to use minimal hardware to create new and innovative solutions to allow people to control their computer with just a standard webcam."

The winner of the Investigation category of the awards is Tasmanian student Hannah Sutton, who investigated a possible treatment for Alzheimer's using a peptide, Caerin 1.9 found in the skin glands of the Australian tree frog.

Hannah worked with the Menzies Institute to develop the possible treatment for the disease.

CSIRO Chairman David Thodey said the awards showed the inventiveness and excellence of the future scientific and engineering leaders of Australia.

"We have 26 students who have applied their creativity and skills to solve some real problems for Australia and the world," he said.

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie said, "This year marks the 35th BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards and through the BHP Billiton Foundation we are thrilled to support bright, young future scientists and engineers.

 

"I'm very proud of what the Awards aim to achieve in encouraging students to explore, research and delight in the study of science, and challenge their understanding of the world around them."

A full list of winners - including the winner of the new award 'Innovator to Market' - and videos of all the students and their projects are available on the website .

Since 1981 the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been Australia's most prestigious school science awards.

The awards reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects which demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific or engineering procedures.

The awards are a partnership between BHP Billiton, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA).

They are sponsored by BHP Billiton Foundation and managed by CSIRO.

For more information on the awards visit BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards.

Additional resources

Images

  • Screen shot of Eye Connect program showing on-screen keyboard and a persons face in the background with the software recognition elements around face and eyes. Download image

    Eye Connect helps people with disabilities control their computer.

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