CamVisors wins Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Washington’s Fifth District

Rep. Rodgers has named Matthew Yao, a 11th grader at Walla Walla High School, as the winner of the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Washington’s Fifth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of CamVisors, the student said, “I’ve always been interested in computer science and programming. Since the rise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the last year, I have been interested in seeing how accurate it could be. Artificial Intelligence was a foreign concept to me before this project, and I wanted to create an app to learn more about it. While searching for a project idea, I noticed that my blind classmate used a white cane and saw some issues with white canes that could be solved through computer vision. I looked into computer vision-based navigation assistance approaches for blind individuals and found that almost all current products cost between $5k-$10k. Hardware that could reproduce the same features costs significantly less, so I challenged myself to create precisely that: A low-cost computer vision-based navigation assistance tool to be an alternative to expensive and inaccessible products currently available.”

This year’s Challenge saw an unprecedented level of participation, with 374 Members of the House of Representatives hosting competitions, surpassing the previous record of 340. A remarkable 11,334 students from across the United States competed in this year’s Challenge, marking an impressive increase of nearly 1,000 participants compared to the previous record set in 2019. The enthusiasm and creativity these students display is a testament to the growing interest in technology and signal a bright future for American innovation. The surge of ingenuity continued with a whopping 3,645 original applications flooding in, nearly a thousand more than the previous year’s high. This remarkable growth showcases the exceptional talent and innovation within our nation’s youth.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. This resounding show of bipartisan support emphasizes the critical importance of STEM education in today’s rapidly evolving world. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2024 Congressional App Challenge will launch in May of 2024, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.