The Glove That Allows the Blind to Read

Incubators

Hungarian startup GlovEye has developed an innovative project offering a solution to help blind people around the world read a variety of texts. The startup developed a tactile feedback glove for smart devices which lets blind and partially sighted people read printed text as Braille. The glove achieves this by utilizing a special Braille cell under the user’s index finger which projects any read character to the user’s fingertip.

The glove is connected to GlovEye’s reader app which uses a camera to track both the text and the user’s finger. The startup’s solution incorporates Microsoft’s AI technology, which uses optical character recognition in order to create text from the image of printed text, software engineer and founding member Ádám Fülöp tells the Budapest Business Journal.

Originally, the team consisted of three Hungarian university students. “The basic idea came from Krisztián, who was a friend of mine and also a founder in the beginning,” Fülöp says, recalling the early days. “We started the project with three people in February 2017 for Microsoft Imagine Cup, then in June Dániel, our very good friend, also joined us.” The team went on to win the Hungarian edition of the Microsoft-backed student developer contest, and to reach the top 32 in the worldwide edition of the competition.  

However, the project almost hit a wall after the cup. “This team had reached a lot in a few months but, for different reasons, everyone except me left the project after the summer. After many attempts the team has been rebuilt successfully; it now consists of three people and is currently actively looking for funds,” he adds.

Back With a Bang

After the successful rebuilding, the startup came back with a bang this year. GlovEye participated in The Chivas Venture World Final and is part of Design Terminal’s mentoring program. In September, it won the Budapest edition of the Pitch@Palace competition, pitching their idea to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York in person. The competition was founded by the duke in 2014, with the aim to “amplify and accelerate” the work of young, innovative technology enterprises. (For more on this, see our earlier story “12 Hungarian Startups Proud to Pitch to a Prince”).

In achieving top spot in the Hungarian round of Pitch@Palace, the startup has qualified for the competition’s global round in London in December. The team will present in St. James Palace. Keen on achieving even more, GlovEye is already preparing for the competition. “We are organizing meetings with London-based institutions and organizations to get the most out of the opportunity,” Fülöp says.

According to him, the biggest challenge during the development of the device was figuring out questions related to user experience. This includes understanding how blind people can use the device, and how exactly it should work “to be as easy to use as possible”. While the product is not yet available commercially, the startup hopes to launch sometime in 2019 Q2.

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