The device, invented by pupils from a Bintulu school, will help prevent the risk of child abduction at schools
THREE pupils from SJK Kai Ming Bintulu stamped their mark as the best young inventors by bagging the gold medal in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) category of the Bangkok International Intellectual Property, Invention, Innovation and Technology Exposition (Ipitex 2020).
The trio – Ling Guan Yee (12), Ling Yan Ru (9), and Nathanael Lim Yee Ning (10), under the supervision of teacher Lee Siau Ken, also won a special accolade – the Young Innovator Award – from Singapore-based Citizen Innovation in recognition of their creativity in the Thailand Inventors’ Day 2020 event from Feb 2-6 at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre.
The group was recognised for inventing a device called the B-Beep, which is Bluetooth pager designed to enhance the safety and security of schoolchildren, including protection against the risk of child abduction at school.
The portable, user-friendly, and lightweight device was initially invented to solve several issues faced by the schoolchildren at SJK Kai Ming Bintulu, especially after school or when attending tuition classes.
Headmaster Ha Cheng Heng said from experience most parents had to come early to school to wait for their children.
Some of them came as early as 11am just to make sure they could find a parking space while waiting for their children before school adjourned at 12.40pm, he added.
“I think with this device parents will be able to know their children’s whereabouts so they don’t have to come too early to school.
“Also, this device will allow the children to inform their parents of their location. It saves time and enhances the children’s safety and security,” noted Ha, who has been with the school since its establishment in 2014.
According to him, the schoolchildren are not encouraged to wait for their parents to arrive outside the school area.
They will have to wait inside the school premises and only after their parents have arrived will they be allowed go out.
Still a problem
Ha, however, admitted such an arrangement was causing a problem for children to locate their parents and vice-versa.
“So the idea to create this portable device came up last year – because the number of pupils has increased.
“The school was relocated from Bintangor and in our first year, we only had 20 pupils but today, there are 306.
“Because the space to wait for parents outside the school is limited, we believe this device will be useful in solving the problem,” he told thesundaypost.
Ha said the young invention team was guided by Lee – the school’s co-curriculum senior assistant, while the three best pupils were picked to be part of the team.
“They are among our best pupils – knowledgeable with excellent public speaking skills – and since the project involved coding and programming, they were guided by other experts in inventing the device,” he added.
Ha thanked the team for their outstanding performance at the international competition, saying Sarawak was proud of their achievement.
“I was informed by Lee, not all teams won the gold medal – only 10 per cent did – out of over 1,000 inventions and products from the 20 participating countries. I hope the team’s excellent effort will be further improved not only by our pupils but also by other schools.
“A big thank you also to the school management board for sponsoring the team’s trip to Bangkok, Thailand.”
Ha believed by competing in such a big event, the pupils could learn from creative inventors of other countries.
This could help the innovation engineering students improve their thinking skills, he added.
On their plan, Ha said they were still improving the device to make it smaller, more user-friendly, practical, and most importantly, affordable.
He pointed out that only after the device had been improved and upgraded would they start promoting it to all parents.
After all, the device was specially created for them to ensure the safety of their children, he said.
No takers yet
So far, no private companies have approached them about the product but Ha said they were open to any collaborative effort to improve the device.
According to Lee, the prototype device is now priced at RM120 each.
She said intensive studies and research had been carried out on the best way to create the device, which is operated by BBC Micro bit.
“It’s a two-way communication device, using Bluetooth which requires no fee to use and it can cover about 180 metres. Parents can use a mobile application to connect B-Beep via Bluetooth.
“When connected, it will alert the children through a buzzer and show the location number by LED lights.
“Children will inform their parents via B-Beep buttons whether they are coming out immediately or have to wait, including at which gate.”
Lee said the children could bring the device to school, tuition classes or other places, and with B-Beep, they would only leave the premises upon their parents’ arrival.
“The idea came from the schoolchildren. They were worried their parents might come too early or too late. The anxiety that something bad might happen while waiting outside the school area prompted the idea for this invention.”
At the product presentation and demonstration, Lim said B-Beep could prevent child abduction because children were waiting inside the school compound until the arrival of their parents at the school gates.
“Besides, it can reduce traffic congestion during school dismissal and reduce parents’ waiting time. Without B-Beep, most parents come as early as 45 minutes before school dismissal to park at a better location but with B-Beep, they can come after school dismissal – for example 10 to 20 minutes later – to pick up their children.”
He said the Bluetooth connection between the B-Beep device and a mobile phone is secure after pairing was done because the Bluetooth of the B-Beep device is only visible to the paired mobile phone.
Lim pointed out that the Bluetooth coverage area is significant with a 180-metre radius.
Yan Ru, on the other hand, said compared with other anti-abduction devices, such as GPS tracker and GPS watch, B-Beep was less expensive.
“The most important difference is B-Beep can be used in schools whereas GPS tracker and GPS watch cannot,” she pointed out.
Guan Yee said B-Beep is portable because it is lightweight (50g) – just one-third the size of a mobile phone.
“It can be easily hooked onto a schoolbag, or your wrist, or be put inside a small pouch or your pocket. Moreover, B-Beep and the mobile application are user-friendly.”
The team said B-Beep could definitely prevent child abduction. It’s a new invention to perform simple yet important electronic communication between parents and children and a must-have device since mobile phones are still prohibited in schools.
The Malaysian delegation comprising the Malaysian Invention and Design Society (MINDS) and Malaysian Research and Innovation Society (MyRIS) won 32 gold, 68 silver, and 74 bronze medals in the annual exposition.
Ipitex is a platform for young inventors to showcase their untapped potential as well as gain in-depth experience and exposure.