Many of us can use a phone without having to think about it, but for disabled people without the use of their hands, it’s a much trickier proposition. That means not only is it harder to be as independent as they’d like, but a whole world of technological developments is closed to them. Or at least, it was.
A new, proprietary form of head-tracking technology will now allow disabled people to use the first ever touch-free smartphone, the Sesame. It’s a Google Nexus 5 Android device operated by head-tracking and voice control, and even works for people with restricted head mobility.
Users will be able to make calls without help, allowing them privacy they may not otherwise have, as well as downloading apps like Facebook and Twitter, accessing email accounts, and controlling internet-connected devices (one of the less publicised benefits of the Internet of Things). This will mean that quadriplegic people could control their own heating, TV, lighting, open and lock doors in their home, and anything else IoT developers come up with.
As well as being potentially life-changing for people who are paralysed, Sesame could also be useful for people with disabling illnesses like Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, as well as conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Giora Livne, who is a former engineer and quadriplegic himself, came up with the idea two years ago after seeing engineer Ben Dov on TV, talking about a gesture-controlled video game he’d developed. Livne recruited Dov to help him design Sesame and is thrilled with what they’ve achieved. ‘With this solution, I can call my loved ones, read a story, browse the internet, play games and do everything that other people do without any help,’ he says. ‘Sesame has allowed me to regain the freedom and independence I had been yearning for, and today those doors will be opening to millions of others.’
Livne and Dov were raising money to bring the phone to market via Indiegogo, but have since won the Verizon Powerful Answers Award, which has afforded them funding for continued development. So they’re donating some crowdfunding cash to fund phones for people and organisations in need – if you’d like to contribute, the campaign’s running until tomorrow.
If you’d like to buy a phone, you can also order one via the Indiegogo page, for $750 (around £490) including postage to the UK. They should start shipping in March.
Image credit: Basti Hansen.
If you’re more interested in getting a new camera than new clothes this season, you might be interested in these camera accessories for your iPhone, which beg the question: Do you need a camera if you own a camera phone?