A DIGITAL program that helps bring sight to blind and visually impaired people – with some public intervention – has been shortlisted in an international competition to find innovations which can transform the lives of people living with disabilities.

Be My Eyes is up for the Best New Product in the Blackwood Design Awards (BDAs), which celebrate the best new inventions that enhance independent living.

It is one of seven designs which will be rated at the University of Edinburgh today after a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to half a dozen expert judges.

The new concepts will be judged in three categories: Best New Concept, Best New Product and the Best Collaborative Project by a university or institute of higher learning.

Be My Eyes enables ordinary people to sign up as helpers who will receive a notification whenever a visually impaired person is in need of help.

That could be something as simple as describing a photo, giving directions or solving a problem.

Together, via video call, users can then communicate and resolve the problem.

One entry that is in with a chance of winning the Best New Concept award is Air Cradle, which offers an innovative solution to helping move someone into a sitting position.

Using a series of simple manoeuvres and an air fillable chair, the user can lift an individual safely, securely and comfortably from a bed into a chair, without resorting to a hoist.

Another invention, nominated in the Best Collaborative Project category, is the Cognitive Assessment from Activities of Daily Living, by Scott Alexander MacLeod and Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.

Their work has involved detecting and analysing the daily activities of older people with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairments.

And it has led them to develop a system which uses robotics and sensors to carry out a thorough, non-intrusive, assessment of an older person’s faculties, as well as their abilities and level of independent living.

Max Brown (pictured right), who chairs the Blackwood board, said: “It’s always fantastic to see how entries can range from being intricate, high-tech products to basic designs and ideas that simply haven’t been considered before.

“What we look for in an award-winning design is something that has the biggest impact on people’s independence. The shortlist this year showcases the end product of some truly phenomenal work and clever thinking.”

Brown added: “We thank all those who are committing their time to such important endeavours wish everyone the best of luck in the BDAs 2019.”

Among those who will be judging the competition this year are George Baxter, CEO of University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Innovations, Toby Mildon, diversity and inclusion lead at Deloitte and BBC Ouch blogger and Maggie Killin, a Blackwood member, tenant and former paralympian.

The awards are now in their sixth year, supporting the legacy of Dr Margaret Blackwood, who dedicated her life to campaigning for the rights of people with disabilities.

Today, Blackwood Homes and Care carries on her work and provides more than 1500 affordable and accessible homes to people across Scotland.

The charity also offers personal care and support services.

Its competition has an excellent reputation for enabling winners to go on to greater success and features entrants from all over the world, including as far as Canada and Pakistan.