We caught up with GiveVision CEO, Stan Karpenko, to hear more about the amazing journey they’ve embarked upon.
GiveVision powers smart glasses for blind people. Developed by a team of software engineers, two of whom are completely blind; it is designed to increase the independence and mobility of the blind and visually impaired by converting visual information to audio cues.
The software enables the wearer to recognise objects, text, products, signs, people, places and talks to the blind person through a bone-conducting headphone. For example someone who is blind could use it to read the labels in the supermarket, cross the road, find a bus stop or identify the number of an approaching bus.
Our journey started in early 2014.
Early on we met a group of blind software engineers and had an idea to build a wearable assistive tool for visually impaired. This was the birth of GiveVision, software that powers any pair of Android smart glasses to act as a guide for blind people.
The logic was simple – there is not a single wearable assistive device for visually impaired on the market. In fact, the £20bn assistive tech industry for the blind was not yet disrupted by internet of things. If you look in to this issue, its absolutely appalling. Its’ almost like 100 years of progress and technological advancements have passed the visually impaired by, who, like 100 years ago, still have to rely on basic tools such as a cane to interact with the world around them.
We knew that we had good knowledge and experience of wearable tech, augmented reality and artificial intelligence to build tools that can assist us in our daily lives – and in this case – bring real independence and mobility.
We then raised $100k seed investment from Wayra UK, forged partnerships with key charities supporting blind people in the UK and started building the prototype.
We have recently announced a call for participants for closed beta. Among other useful features, visually impaired testers will have access to worlds first blind-friendly user interface for smart glasses. We’ve learned a lot since the days of Google Glass, so no more awkward talking or touching your device – our software allows you to control your smart glasses by tracking discreet head gestures. You can also use your glasses as a remote control to your smartphone or personal computer.
Overall working with users directly has been instrumental in getting us where we are today. Many innovations and features were designed or conceived by users themselves throughout the process. We were just duly executing on the requests and returning for feedback.
It looks like the visually impaired are likely to lead the adoption trend for smart glasses followed by medical and industrial applications, but it is only a question of time before this technology hits the consumer market.