Nkululeko Tunzi is an aspiring young entrepreneur whose ideas have set a new standard in innovation. The computer science graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has invented a walking aid that helps blind people navigate traffic.
Bulatsela, as he named it, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning features to interpret surroundings. According to Tunzi, the idea is for it to help detect objects and obstacles in front of and around the user.
According to City Press, the young man was born in Soweto. Growing up he wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, but was equally curious about everything else.
“My siblings are all in different fields; my father is a paramedic and my mother is in finance. I wanted to be a vet because I love animals and still do, but I was also always curious about everything around me."
Tunzi had initially planned on enrolling for a qualification in information technology (IT) but the long queues on registration day made him opt for a diploma in computer systems instead.
He said studying computer systems also introduced him to a side of himself he was not aware of.
In the last year of studies he managed to bag an internship at Tshimologong, Wits University’s digital incubation and development hub, and after graduating he returned to the same centre.
Tunzi said the idea for Bulatsela came about after seeing a blind elderly woman waiting to cross a street.
“That’s when I thought that there must be a way [to help people in her position] and started with my research and looked at existing options.”
When Red Bull came calling for people to submit applications for social innovations for an advanced incubation programme, Tunzi knew his idea would sell.
He wishes for his innovation to be used widely by blind people to help them in everyday life.
Tunzi also runs a nonprofit organisation called Ghetto Nerds, which he uses to visit schools to teach pupils about computer programming and electronics.
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