A group of Bay Area teens was mingling with Silicon Valley’s top dogs, sharing a new device and app that help the visually impaired.
In a room filled with tech giants and the Silicon Valley elite, the recent grads from Lowell and Dublin High Schools were getting a lot of attention. What began as a high school project went on to win the Visa Developer Hackathon landed the bright teens a coveted spot at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt.
The idea was inspired by their friend’s dad who lost his vision to glaucoma and had to buy a $10,000 device to help him get around.
“We wanted to make something a lot more cheap, a lot more accessible and empower visually impaired people,” said young developer Devin Mui.
It’s called Blindsight. It is a wearable device that pairs with an app to help the visually impaired with daily tasks.
“There’s a bunch of different features: recognize objects, find things, read text, et cetera,” explained Mui.
The device uses vibrations to guide the user toward objects and machine learning to identify faces. The device also uses Visa’s open-source technology to help make payments and shop, which is how the teens won the Visa Hackathon.
“When we heard about the idea and the fact that there are millions of visually impaired people around the world, we felt like this solution would be able to help bring payments to that population,” said Visa spokesperson Charles Tsang
“We hope to someday slim this down to more of a smart watch profile, so we’re trying to maybe get it down to an Apple Watch size,” said Mui.
The team also made it to the semifinals at TechCrunch Disrupt, but was unable to make the finals. However, they are still hopeful that they will get funding and eventually bring this product to market, changing the lives of millions of people who are visually impaired.