By innovating the white cane, the girls from Sarajevo make it easier for blind and partially sighted people to move around

Looking for an opportunity to express their ideas and thoughts about socially beneficial changes and ways in which innovative solutions can contribute to solving various problems in society, a group of hard-working young people applied for the competition in proposing social innovations – Youth Innovation Award 2023.

The idea that garnered the most sympathy from the public and expert jury through the competition, and won first place, was proposed by three young people from Sarajevo:  Sara Nalo, Selma Budnjo and Melisa Mutapčić.

Be My Step  is an idea thanks to which modern technology becomes a compassionate companion for blind and partially sighted people. According to the available information obtained by these young innovators, there are currently over 40 million blind people in the world, while only 8% of them use a smart cane as an aid when moving. It was this data that led Sara, Selma and Melissa to offer a solution in the form of smart boxes adaptable to every white stick. You can see how it all looks in practice  HERE.

“Research has led us to the conclusion that a white cane does not offer sufficient assistance in the movement of blind and partially sighted people. The box we designed uses sensors to detect obstacles in multiple levels and with our app alerts users through a virtual assistant, making every step safe and independent. The prototype of the box that we developed is not just a device, but a solution that makes everyday life easier” – emphasize from the Be My Step team.

The goal of the Youth Innovation Award competition in which this group won is precisely to motivate young people to become sources of positive change in their communities, affirming future innovative youth leaders, emphasizing the importance of their work, contribution and active participation in creating better conditions for life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This competition is organized and conducted for the second year in a row by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Institute for Youth Development KULT, thus providing the opportunity and support for young people so that their innovative ideas become a common better future for all of us.

Now, when the impressions have settled, Selma points out that her team’s participation in the competition helped her in many ways:

“The competition helped us, first of all, in terms of the financial resources we received, because we all know how difficult it is for young people today to get support for starting any small business. We are very glad that we had the opportunity to get financial resources, as well as all other resources that we needed to start and build the application. What you see is the first prototype we made, and we are aware that we have a long way to go, but we think that if it wasn’t for this award, we wouldn’t have it today.”

They invested the prize they won in the development of a software solution in the form of an application that is currently in the testing phase so that it will soon see the light of day and become available on Google and Apple stores. In addition to the software part, a hardware solution of the sensor box was also created, which, thanks to the sensors, detects obstacles that are not only on the ground, but in several levels.

In order to realize the idea to the end, they need to add functionalities to the application that they came up with thanks to the mentoring support.

The story of the innovators behind the Be My Step idea shows that young people recognize the Youth Innovation Award competition as an opportunity to get the necessary funds for the realization of their ideas, but also as a chance to finally put them into action.

Be My Step is an excellent example of how young people can significantly improve the quality of life of their fellow citizens with their innovations. We wish Sara, Selma and Melissa good luck in their further engagement and creating better conditions for all of us.