How Italian dbGLOVE and Pedius assist the deaf and blind

The dbGlove, an assistive technology for deaf and deaf and blind people for using mobile phones. Photo Credit: PR

Two teams I work with do something quite meaningful: they help deaf and blind people more easily communicate

Recently, we wrote about the new Helsinki-based healthtech startups business accelerator Vertical. The accelerator, backed by a VC fund, is focused on innovations in health and wellness, wearables, and smart home technologies. Experts with wide industry understanding across all disciplines help turn teams’ concepts into minimum meaningful products: fit for market, appealing to customers and delightful to users.

I am also a mentor at Vertical and two teams I work with do something quite meaningful: they help deaf and blind people more easily communicate.

dbGLOVE helps the deaf and blind. An interview with CEO Nicholas Caporusso

Photo Credit: PR

Pavel — What problem does dbGLOVE solve ?

Nicholas — Currently, there is no technology for people who are completely deaf and blind. As a result, they depend on assistants to communicate with others. dbGLOVE is a wearable device that enables blind and deaf-blind people to use all the features of a mobile phone to communicate with others and to interact with the world. This gives them the opportunity to get access to information and communication when their assistant is not there. As a result, they can receive training, increase the numbers of those that can work, and be more socially included.

What feedback do you have from people who tested your device?

We designed our device with the help of users who gave us incredible feedback about their experience. With their contribution, we introduced a lot of changes in the design, such as the flexible fingers. Moreover, as our users are not required to learn a new communication system, they can employ languages they already learn and use (e.g., Malossi, Lorm, Braille, or even so-called functional communication) to interact with dbGLOVE. As a result, the most impressive moment we experience is when they are able to straightforwardly use the device, after very little training (approximately 5 minutes).

What are your next steps? When will it be on the market?

We are currently working with partners to develop our final prototype into a product, which will be ready in the first quarter of 2016. In the next months we will launch an open call so that eligible users will get the chance to participate in our trial and receive dbGLOVE first. In March 2016, the device will be available on the market, though dbGLOVE is already available on pre-order through our website.

What help do you need now? Show us.

We are looking for organizations who will support us in disseminating our call for users in the blind and deaf-blind communities. Also, we are actively looking for an impact investment to support the distribution of dbGLOVE through our partners (mainly patient organizations), and for distributors in the US.

Here you can see dbGLOVE in action.

Pedius, available on iOS and Android, enables deaf people to make emergency phone calls: An interview with Lorenzo Di Ciaccio

Pavel — What problem does Pedius solve?

Lorenzo — Many services are generally only reachable by phone, hence they are not available at all to deaf and hard of hearing people. The Pedius team is on a mission to make calling and communicating more accessible for people with disabilities and they are making a social business of it.

What feedback do you have from people who tested your device?

Our best feedback was sent during the first month of beta (July 2013). One user reported using the app to call her gynecologist through Pedius when she was having strong contractions, and gave birth shortly afterward. She sent us a wonderful email that we consider today our first salary.

What are your next steps? When will it be on the market?

We launched in Italy in November 2013. Now Pedius is active in nine countries. The next step will be to enable the service in other countries in Europe and extending also to large countries like Brazil and China where services for the deaf are less available.

What makes you better than other services already available on the market?

Other services are using human interpreters to enable deaf people to call. For that reason those services are really expensive, moreover there are several privacy issues and queues before the call starts. Pedius ensures speed and privacy since no human behind will listen to the conversation.

Will you become the “the mobile phone for deaf people”?

As there are ramps for the steps, we want to be the enabling technology for the phone. We don’t treat deaf people as disabled, but as a customer. Bringing a new standard in the telecommunication industry will be our goal for the next year.

What help do you need now? Show us.

We are looking for investment and partnerships in the telecommunication industry in order to bring captioned phone calls as a standard.

The views expressed are of the author.

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Originally published at www.geektime.com on September 18, 2015.