Individuals with disabilities often face a real obstacle course. Suffering from a motor, hearing, visual or mental problem, they need specific equipment but also adapted facilities to be able to move easily. New technologies can, in this sense, be used to simplify their daily lives. Start-ups then embarked on this sector of HandiTech by setting up innovative or atypical processes. Their goal: to bring a positive and immediate influence on the lives of people with reduced mobility, the visually impaired as well as the hard of hearing and deaf.
12 million French people are subject to disability, 1.5 million are visually impaired and 850,000 have reduced mobility, according to the OCIRP (Organisme Commun des Institutions de Rente et de Prévoyance, a social insurer that protects employees and their families in the event of death or loss of autonomy, editor’s note). In 2017, nearly a million people with disabilities were employed, which represents a rate of around 35%, according to the Dares (Directorate for the Animation of Research, Studies and Statistics, which depends on the Ministry of Work, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue, editor’s note). And more than 80% of these disabled workers practice their activity in ordinary employment. But many start-ups offer people in a situation of handicap, adapted and innovative means to facilitate their daily lives.
Furenexo and its SoundSense, the pocket device for the hearing impaired
Created in New York in 2015 by Brian Goral and Eric Skiff, the American start-up Furenexo offers many innovations including SoundSense, a portable device that alerts the hearing impaired to heavy sounds such as signals and alarms as well as to the cries of individuals. being in the surroundings. The aim of the company is to improve technologies so that they allow people with disabilities to live decently and to solve the difficulties they encounter in their daily life. During a visit to the company Berkeley Bionics (an American company that manufactures motorized exoskeletal bionic devices, editor’s note), the two leaders witnessed a striking scene where an individual in a wheelchair was able, for the first time , stand up using an exoskeleton. The idea for Furenexo was born from there. Small and easy to use, the SoundSense is intended primarily for people with profound deafness. The gadget, consisting of a connected microphone, transmits a message to a microprocessor when loud noises are heard. It vibrates and then emits small light signals to alert the user. Rechargeable by USB, its autonomy turns out to be a day. While the device is currently sold for $ 25, the company wants to lower its price in pharmacies, schools and specialized centers so that these establishments can have easy access.
Faciligo makes people with reduced mobility travel
Launched by Hind Emad and Moussa Bouasba in July 2016, the Montpellier start-up Faciligo offers a social platform that allows people with reduced mobility to travel easily and safely by putting them in touch with able-bodied travelers who come to their aid. It works for all modes of transport, whether on short trips or long journeys, from leaving the home to the place of arrival. Disabled travelers publish their request on the platform and choose the companion that suits them based on common areas of interest but also specific qualifications and needs, which vary according to the type of disability. Usually, the disabled person who is escorted by a relative must pay an additional ticket. Thanks to this system, she only pays one, in addition to a support package 50% to 70% cheaper than a second ticket. The accompanying person also benefits from reduced fares on his transport ticket, up to 30% of the price, and has a prize pool that grows for each trip to the tune of 1.50 euros. After 10 trips, he then has the option of recovering the money or donating it to an association. The company is remunerated with the connection costs, i.e. one euro; for the time being, it is concentrating on a fundraising one million euros in order to deploy its platform throughout France as well as internationally.
AccessMan, at the service of people with motor disabilities
Access Man, a Norman start-up based in Chicheboville, comes from the research and development team of Starnav, an institute founded by Georges Lamy. It develops technological tools and software for people with physical disabilities. Its ambition is to improve access to digital by offering various programs that allow interaction with digital tools. The Head Pilot interface makes it possible to control a computer without contact using the movements of the head thanks to a facial recognition algorithm. Ability Browser, another software, can be integrated with Head Pilot within web pages, by means of a webcam. As for Pictocom, it uses pictograms to allow the disabled person to express themselves through a voice synthesis. Finally, Eye Clik offers the ability to click and perform keyboard shortcuts using eye blinks.
Start-ups are getting more and more involved in the HandiTech sector to enable individuals to overcome their disability. Institutions even seek to promote their work. This is the case of the association “La Handitech” created by JobinLive (recruitment firm for people from diverse backgrounds) and CGI (for “Consultants to Government and Industry”, a Canadian group specializing in technology services information and communication, editor’s note) in partnership with Bpifrance and APF France Handicap. This supports and promotes innovation through a competition, Handi Tech Trophy.