Adding a human touch to technology at the OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator Israel Demo Day
After being injured in a helicopter crash in 1987, former Israeli Air Force pilot Yuval Wagner was left confined to a wheelchair. After becoming aware of the lack of wheelchair accessible facilities in Israel, Wagner established Access Israel Org, a non-profit organization committed to promoting awareness around accessibility and inclusivity and helping those with disabilities to enjoy an independent life.
"We hope that by improving awareness among government decision makers and the general public, everyone will be able to better understand the needs of those with disabilities," said Wagner. "This includes the needs towards accessible technology and in creating a technology landscape that is inclusive to those with disabilities."
Accessible technology has become a key area of focus for tech companies in recent years. During the recent OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator Demo Day in Israel, a panel of judges led by Wagner evaluated technology proposals from four startups aimed at delivering new solutions to accessible technology. The proposals were evaluated against the four criteria of feasibility, innovation & originality, social value, and long-term potential, as well as their potential to empower particular groups whose needs have been overlooked by technology in past.
SocialMind: using technology to help parents better care for children with autism through evidence-based intervention techniques
According to data from the World Health Organization, one in every 100 children suffers from autism. Autism affects the brain in many ways but is most often manifested in challenges with social skills and communication. Parents of children with autism often lack access to science-based therapies and methods of care, and even those methods which are available are not supported by strong clinical evidence.
SocialMind is a training platform designed to train parents to become an expert in providing the highest standard of care for children with autism. The platform uses AI at its core to help parents learn professional methods of care through everyday activities, and offers personalized feedback based on videos uploaded through the platform. After using pivotal response training (PRT) with her two autistic children, SocialMind founder Dr. Keren Sagiv Friedgut decided to bring this promising evidence-based therapy to more parents, doing everything within her power to help more children realize their true potential and to improve the lives of families with autistic children.
RightHear: talking signage helps those with visual impairments navigate their surroundings in real time
When finding themselves in unfamiliar environments, many blind people often rely on smartphone navigation and physical feedback from their surroundings to find their way. However, despite advancements in navigation technology, many other bits of essential information such as signs, shops, and rest facilities are more difficult to decipher. At the same time, literacy in braille is declining, removing what was once a key source of information for those with visual impairments. According to talking signage app company RightHear, nearly 90% of those with visual impairments cannot read braille, and without some form of real time audio navigation, these people are have considerable difficulty finding their way around.
During the OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator Israel Demo Day, RightHear demonstrated its voice navigation application developed for visually impaired people using Bluetooth® technology. By detecting and recognizing indoor and outdoor public spaces, RightHear uses real-time audio descriptions to help visually impaired people easily navigate their way around obstacles and move safely in many different types of environments. At present, the team has created customized audio descriptions for nearly 2,000 public spaces around the world in partnership with restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and business districts. As the technology continues to develop, RightHear will continue to build safer and more convenient environments for those with visual impairments, helping them freely navigate the world.
Sign Now: video sign language translator creates a common language between those with and without hearing difficulties
Around 90 million people worldwide suffering from hearing impairments have difficulty in communicating with other people who are not familiar with sign language. As a result, many of those with hearing impairments experience a delay in receiving information and have difficulties communicating in real time, especially in situations in which time is of the essence, such as when receiving medical treatment or in work and business situations.
For their submission to the OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator, Sign Now demonstrated a more humanized solution that allows those with hearing impairments to make a video call with online sign language translators through the Sign Now mobile app. The app can be used anytime, anywhere, allowing real-time communication in everyday situations such as hospital and shopping mall visits. It also offers call back services, scheduled calls, and others. To date, Sign Now has helped hearing-impaired people around the world conduct more than 50,000 real-time video translations and communications, helping to create an accessible and easy-to-use communications platform based on the real needs of those with hearing impairments.
6Degrees: inclusive access to digital healthcare through hardware and software innovation
According to Israeli healthcare startup 6Degrees, nearly 300 million people with injuries or disabilities worldwide have difficulty operating computers, smartphones, or other smart devices. With healthcare services becoming increasingly digitized, this makes access to the vital treatments and services that these groups need more difficult to access.
6Degrees has developed a set of motion control technology services based on hardware and software. At the hardware level, a wearable intelligent device based on AI technology provides gesture control for smart devices for users who cannot control the devices directly due to injury or other difficulties. The team has also created motion tracking software based on cloud technology to provide engaging, effective, and scientific remote rehabilitation services for patients. Through the application of AI and cloud technology, 6degrees hopes to help more groups with mobility difficulties improve their quality of life integration into society.
The emergence of new technologies will have a significant impact on our beliefs and the way we live our lives. This profound impact is behind OPPO’s decision to base this year’s OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator around the two entry categories of accessible technology and digital health. OPPO hopes to see more innovation in science and technology that address social issues and benefit more groups of disadvantaged people. Through the Accelerator, OPPO also hopes to bring more attention to these issues and give everyone the belief that they have the power to make the world a better place.
"We want to use the findings of our scientific research to help thousands of people lead healthier and more enjoyable lives and make the world a better place for all those who inhabit it," said Timothy Weadon, Director of OPPO’s Hardware Engineering for Health, OPPO.
Technology companies such as OPPO play an indispensable role in promoting the development of science and technology. OPPO itself has made a number of important breakthroughs with its own R&D efforts. This includes the introduction of the Farnsworth Munsell Hue Color Test to smartphone for the first time as part of its Color Vision Enhancement. The technology can help those with color vision deficiencies see ‘true’ color on their smartphones by applying a color profile scientifically customized to their own color vision. OPPO has also made huge steps towards greater accessibility in its ColorOS operating system by simplifying operating procedures and optimizing user interfaces. Through the OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator, OPPO is also working with more innovators to find solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems and create more equal, inclusive, and thoughtful experiences with technology.