Phone Designed for People with Disabilities Wins $1 Million Verizon Prize

Sesame Enable says it is the world’s first completely touch-free smartphone, designed by and for people with disabilities.

Sesame Enable

Israeli startup Sesame Enable, which develops smart phones for people with disabilities, has won a $1 million prize in the Verizon Wireless competition.

Based in Israel, Sesame Enable has developed touch-free smartphone and tablet technology for children and adults for whom touch is not possible. According to Sesame Enable, of the 5.6 million paralyzed people in the U.S., 150, 000 are children who cannot move their hands. The technology integrates with games and applications and allows those children access to educational opportunities previously inaccessible to them.

It boasts that the Sesame Phone is the world’s first completely touch-free smartphone, designed by and for people with disabilities.

The Sesame phone works by tracking the user’s head movements using the built-in, front-facing camera on the phone. These tracked movements are combined with cutting-edge computer vision algorithms to create a cursor that appears on the screen of the phone, similar to a cursor you would see on a computer screen.

The on-screen cursor is controlled by the position and movements of a user’s head, and supports even minimal movements. You can operate any and all features of the device that you would normally operate using one finger on screen. Touch, swipe, browse, play, download, and more – it’s all possible using the Sesame smartphone.

Voice control is integrated to provide a truly hands-free experience for accessing the device. To turn the phone just say “Open Sesame” and it will wake up and start tracking you.

The company won in the education category which was one of four in the completion which also included healthcare, sustainability and transportation. Each one’s winner received the grand prize of $1 million and two additional winners in each category will receive $250, 000 each for a total of $6 million in prize money from Verizon.

Other Israeli startups in the competition included Talkitt in the healthcare category, winning a $250, 000 prize, and HopOn, a public transportation app, that also won a $250, 000 prize. Verizon Wireless chose the winning technologies according to their potential to “change the world.”

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