Organization name: Wicab, Inc.
Launched Date: 2015-06-19
Who has created it: Bill Conn
Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.
Other than using a cane or guide dog, blind can't "see" what is in their pathway or what is sitting on a table in front of them. BrainPort V100 translates digital information from a wearable video camera into gentle electrical stimulation patterns on the surface of the tongue. Users feel moving bubble-like patterns on their tongue which they learn to interpret as the shape, size, location and motion of objects in their environment. Some users have described it as being able to “see with your tongue”.
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:
Target audience is the profoundly blind. World Health Organization estimates 285 million visually impaired people worldwide with 39 million blind. BrainPort V100 provides users increased mobility, greater independence and increased confidence to go into the outside world. This would allow the blind to have greater job opportunities and more opportunity for social interaction.
How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?
To-date, the blind needed to be accompanied or trained to learn specific routes in order to be mobile. BrainPort V100 allows users to explore the outside world more independently.
How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?
The BrainPort® V100 includes a video camera mounted on a pair of sunglasses, a hand-held controller, and a tongue array (IOD). The camera works in a variety of lighting conditions and has an adjustable field of view. The tongue array contains 400 electrodes and is connected to the glasses via a flexible cable. White pixels from the camera are felt on the tongue as strong stimulation, black pixels as no stimulation, and gray levels as medium levels of stimulation.
Users report the sensation as pictures that are painted on the tongue with tiny bubbles. A small hand-held unit provides user controls (stimulation adjustment, zoom, contrast, test, on-off) and houses the rechargeable battery.
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.
BrainPort V100 is being marketed worldwide. Supervised training is necessary prior to using the BrainPort® V100 device independently. Individuals need to complete a minimum of 10 hours of one-on-one training, over a three day period, with requirements and content customized for the individual user. The training sessions cover proper interpretation of sensory information and operation of the device controls. We currently offer training in the USA, Canada, EU, and Hong Kong. More training facilities will open in the future.
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 BrainPort V100 allows users to widen the scope of their day to day lives. From finding objects they can't see to allowing greater social interaction with the sighted world, BrainPort V100 is one more tool allowing the profoundly blind to lead a more normal life.
Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.
A 80 year old gentleman in China was having severe health issues because he was afraid to leave the house and not getting any exercise. After using BrainPort he started going on short walks and his health increased significantly.
Young artist was blinded in an auto accident. She is now using BrainPort V100 to continue her painting career.
Young boy in clinical trials with the BrainPort V100 "saw" his parents for the first time and started crying.
Stories go on and on. See the video links below.