One of the banes of city living is traffic. But for the traffic signals, the traffic would be chaotic leading to accidents, jams, and even deaths. But, did you ever wonder how do these traffic signals work? Despite the traffic, how do these traffic signals work collaboratively and in tandem with each other, even though they are inanimate objects? Well, the answer lies in the controller that is present within each and every traffic signal. Let’s see how these traffic signal controllers work.

A traffic signal primarily comprises a traffic signal controller, vehicle detector, traffic signal lanterns or lights, posts, pedestrian push buttons and underground electrical wiring to connect all these different aspects with each other.

In this entire gamut of components, the traffic controller is considered to be the ‘brains’ behind the entire operation. The controller primarily houses a computer that detects, analyzes and processes the information that it receives from its detector and push buttons and changes the traffic light accordingly. Depending on the traffic demands in the city, a traffic signal controller usually determines how long the green signal stays on for each phase or traffic movement. It also controls the transition from a green signal to a red signal. Traffic signal controllers are also one of the most versatile gadgets. They can operate in a stand-alone manner and can also be programmed to collaborate and coordinate with other traffic signals.

The traffic controller works on two different methodologies. These are:

Fixed Time

Many traffic controllers are often programmed to follow the fixed time operation. In this operation, the controller enables the traffic signal to show green for the same amount of time, irrespective of the traffic. While the fixed operation works wonderfully in a heavily congested road, it is not used optimally in places where there is very little traffic. In an area where there is very little traffic, a fixed time phase is often considered to be useless, as then the traffic signal can be programmed to follow other effective operation methods.

Vehicle Actuation

One of the most commonly used operations methods is the vehicle actuation operation. In this operation, the traffic signal controller detects and takes in to account the vehicle demands on all roads and enables the traffic signal to show green.

The traffic signal controller detects the vehicle demands through detection units that are installed over the signal heads or on the carriageway. It then analyzes and processes the information and allocates the right amount of time that a green signal should stay on or the right amount of time the red should stay on for each and every road. Here, you should remember that the controller is already programmed with the minimum and maximum times the green should be on and this cannot be changed. How this works you might ask? Well, the traffic signal controller detects the number of cars that pass through its detector and depending on the traffic and the information it receives from the grid, it turns the green signal on. In this case, any car that will pass through will extend the time of the signal.

The traffic signal controller’s job doesn’t seem as easy as it looks. Other than, keeping a close watch on the current traffic (vehicle and pedestrian), the traffic signal also has to consider all the information it receives from the traffic signal network to ensure a smooth flow of traffic in the city.

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How NEOFECT Created a Smart Glove (Robotic Arm) That Uses Online Gaming for Rehabilitation

Wearable technology keeps evolving. And it is transforming the way we experience the world. Watches, eyeglasses, rings, bracelets and even smart home devices like the thermostat are changing how we consumer information, monitor our health and use home products. Smart technology has a significant role to play in how people will live in the future.

NEOFECT wants to change how to aid rehabilitation and the provision of clinicial real-time patient data. In an interview with  Scott Kim, Neofect’s co-founder and CEO of the US office, he spoke to us about how he started NEOFECT, the company’s success factors and challenges they have faced in their bid to change physical therapy using online gaming.

Brief summary about your startup

Established in 2010, NEOFECT is a mobile health startup with a vision to deliver an affordable and effective at-home system to aid neuro patients with central nervous system disorders such as a stroke.

Its first product, RAPAEL Smart Glove, combines a wearable device, virtual reality and gamification for rehab exercise, while its software analyzes the data from built-in sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level.

The device has been successfully employed by a number of major hospitals in South Korea since December of 2014, and approved for use in the US and Europe. NEOFECT has offices in S. Korea, San Francisco, and Poland.

Why and how it was started

The President of NEOFECT, Ho-Young Ban, experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by stroke patients and their families when his father and two uncles fell victims of stroke.

Although his uncles were fortunate to survive, they had to turn down the rehab therapy because of the costs involved. So, when his friend Young Choi came up with an idea of Rapael, Ban could not resist.

Soon after, their classmate from the University of Virginia’s Darden MBA program Scott Kim joined the team to launch the US operations.

Kim was born with spinal bifida and went through a surgery and a long rehabilitation process, so he immediately recognized the opportunity and became a co-founder and the CEO of the Neofect’s US office.

What has been the biggest success factors

Personal motivation of the founders combined with the latest, most advanced smart technologies have become the major engines behind the company’s success.

– Gamification, which motivates a patient throughout the rehab process. It helps to induce neuroplasticity for hand function of a patient with a brain damage.

Various rehab games are updated monthly and each game targets specific movements such as squeezing the orange for finger flexion/extension and pouring wine for forearm pronation/supination, for example.

– Artificial Intelligence: the software analyzes data from the glove’s sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level. The algorithm is designed to enhance learning multiple functions by offering an optimal task at a proper level of difficulty.

– Wearable Device: RAPAEL Smart Glove is a wearable bio-feedback training gadget. Lightweight and designed to fit different hand sizes, it uses the Bluetooth technology to collect the patient’s data.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?

The biggest challenge was the product’s concept itself. Many people believed that Rapael could be a threat to the therapists. Fortunately, after we launched the program in several hospitals, we’ve been able to prove that our device is designed with the doctors’ and patient’s needs in mind and helps them make the rehabilitation process more efficient.

Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?

This sounds like a cliché, but the right team is easily the answer to me. With the right people, you can make necessary adjustments based on new information to make sure there is a product-market fit.

My previous job was to lead a team to make mobile apps – without any exception, all great apps loved by users were made by great teams.

Final words for those chasing the startup dream

Never underestimate the importance of execution. Many people waste their time just to validate what they think or others think, or even just to finish the conceptualization.

However, you should “fail fast” in order concentrate your efforts on building a product which has a market demand, and of course, to save time and money as well.

Plus, you should fail while you are small rather than big, if you’re meant to face it. The earlier you do the reality check, the faster you can reach your goal, although it might cost you a couple of failures at the beginning.

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