Category: Assistive Technology,
Organization name: iMerciv Inc.
Launched Date: 2015-10-07
Who has created it: Arjun Mali
Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.
Orientation and Mobility is difficult for a person living with blindness or partial sight. In urban jungles like Toronto, there happen to be many hazardous obstacles scattered all over the city that are difficult to detect. Navigating around busy streets with construction signs, barriers, promotional signboards and tree branches has always been a daily challenge for those living with vision loss.
A major pain point that needs to be addressed is detecting obstacles above the waist, particularly at the head level. Traditional aids such as a cane or a guide dog do not always address these issues. As a result, irritable or serious accidents are a frequent nuisance for someone living with blindness or significant loss of vision.
Moreover, due to the social stigma attached with visual impairment, for those who are partially sighted, there are no solutions at all. Many of these individuals tend to opt out of using a cane or a guide dog as they do not want to stand out in public or be perceived as someone that needs help.
The BuzzClip is a small and discreet wearable for people that are blind or partially sighted. The device uses ultrasound to detect obstacles that may lie directly in the path. It then notifies the user of these obstacles through intuitive vibrations, allowing the user to safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter. The BuzzClip offers essential head level obstacle detection and can be attached to many forms of clothing, making it a highly versatile and useful device.
Tell us who is the target audience and how the accessible innovation will benefit them. Please specify the different target audiences groups and provide numbers and statistics of your current clients as well as what is the potential number of people that the innovation can impact and empower:
Our target audience is anyone who is blind, deaf blind or living with moderate to severe loss of focal or periperhal vision. Utilizing a device like the BuzzClip can greatly improve day-to-day life for a person living with blindness or severe vision loss by:
- Reducing Accidents & Irritable Injuries
- Improving Independence & Confidence
- Quickening Rehabilitation & Training
- Reducing Care & Rehabilitation Costs
- Providing a Hands-Free Solution
- Reducing Fear of Mobility
Encouraging an Active Lifestyle So far we have tested the device with over 200 people in Canada, the U.S and India and since our launch online we have about 268 pre-orders (and counting).
How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?
Our solution solves the issue of upper body and head level detection that is often missed by using traditional aids like a cane or a guide dog. Currently there are a few hand held solutions on the market however they do not properly address the issue due to its complexity of use and its high price point. Also for people that are partially sighted (majority of target audience) there are little to no solutions at all.
How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?
Our product has been built with consideration to the larger partially sighted population and it offers a hands-free solution as it is wearable. iMerciv BuzzClip has a significant competitive advantage over the majority of products currently available in this market through its essential functionality, versatility and affordability while also offering sleek style and discretion.
Our main competitors at the moment are the Smart Cane, the Sunu Band and the Ambutech iGlasses. The Smart Cane is an affordable ultrasonic Cane that was recently commercialized in India, however it does not properly address the issue of head level detection and only caters to current white cane users. The Sunu Band has a higher price and is limited to the wrist. The Amubutech iGlasses detects head level obstacles, however its big and bulky form as well as the constant vibration on users head gave rise to negative reviews.
How do you get the innovative solution to reach the target audience? Please elaborate on the your go to market strategy and which geographies do you currently work in and what are your future plans for marketing your innovation.
We have recently successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo. We have reached out to our audience through Blind Technology blogs and radio shows as well as email lists and newsletters of blind organizations around the world.
For example we have been featured on outlets such as Cool Blind Tech, Eye on Mobility, NFB Mailing lists, Blind Bargains and more. This along with tradeshows and related exhibitions will help us reach our audience.
We are focusing sales in North America (about 4 million people) to begin with followed by Europe and Asian markets.
What is the potential impact of the innovative solution on the lives of the target audience? Please elaborate by providing statistics of the current impact and the potential impact.
The BuzzClip can dramatically change the lives of people living with significant vision loss, particularly for those who have just recently lost their vision. It is an extremely useful mobility tool that can reduce fears of travelling and provides a reliable way to inform a user of their immediate surroundings. There are also many ways where the product helps users in social situations such as lining up at coffee shops, locating important objects (mailboxes, etc.) and being able to tell which way to face when having a conversation with another person.
The device can give an individual the independence and confidence to attempt new opportunities they have not explored before. It provides a early warning system before colliding with obstacles around their immediate environment and can encourage people to pursue careers and gainful employment.
Utilizing a device like the BuzzClip can greatly improve day-to-day life for a person living with blindness or severe vision loss. There are approximately 314 million people worldwide that are visually impaired out of which 45 million are totally blind. The potential market in North America alone is estimated to be around $700 million.
Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.
The inspiration for the creating the BuzzClip emerged after meeting a young blind girl that loved to run. Her love for running was so great that it took her 7 months just to map out and find a location where she could run unobstructed. When we came back to show her the first prototype, her reaction was truly heart warming and she is now a great ambassador of the product.
Many others have since been using the product daily to help them navigate the chaotic world around them. A lot of support has come from parents of blind children that constantly let us know about how the product has changed the lives of their children. It allows them to navigate around their homes and communities in a way that they have never done before, making them more confident and independent.
Our device has truly benefited the lives of many people living with blindness and partial sight, its simplicity and ease of use makes it very quick to learn and suddenly opens up a world of new information for our users.