08 April 2019
Follow this link to read an interview in Spanish or read it below in English
1. What is Feelif?
A revolutionary innovation Feelif enables the blind and visually impaired to feel shapes and graphs, to draw and play games. Feelif upgrades a standard smart device with specially developed software and an overlay relief grid allowing blind and visually impaired users to finally interact with digital content without limitations.
Feelif is perfect for users of all age however it brings revolutionary change to the educational sector for the blind and visually impaired. We have developed applications, which are designed to provide blind and visually impaired people with learning and entertainment opportunities, opportunities for creative expression and are easy to learn and use.
2. How does Feelif technology work?
The embossed transparent grid and the combination of vibration, audio, and visual feedback help to orientate on the screen and allows to feel shapes and images displayed on the standard touchscreen. We have developed several applications in the field of entertainment and education, as well as practical day-to-day applications in order to finally welcome the blind and visually impaired in the digital world.
The haptic feedback allows the user to feel what is underneath their finger at every moment. Depending on what is on the screen, the devices use different types of vibrations for an even better representation of the various elements on the screen. While the speech assistance describes to the user what is on the screen, where they are or what they are interacting with.
Additionally, a selection of sounds is used to assist blind and visually impaired people with creating an image of what is on the screen. For example, objects with different colors are represented by various instruments. Also, certain apps use different notes to distinguish between different directions.
Furthermore, we use realistic natural sounds, and enforce them with talkback function, to strengthen the connections between the noises they may hear frequently and what they represent (e.g. when interacting with a picture of a car, the tablet says “car” and then plays a car engine noise).
3. How did you come up with the idea of tactile accessible devices for the blind?
In November 2013 Željko Khermayer, an innovator and Feelif’s founder was watching a documentary about deaf-blind people. When he realized how lonely and isolated they are and how unaffordable for them communication devices are, he was deeply moved. As a bachelor of computer science, CEO and founder of one of Slovenia's most successful IT digital agencies 4WEB he thought that there must be a way to integrate them into society and enable them to communicate efficiently and affordable. He felt that he must solve this problem because nobody else will.
He thought if he can enable them to use smartphones, then that would solve the communication problem. And smartphones are affordable. But how can a person who cannot see and cannot hear use a smartphone? That is how he thought of vibration. That is something that they can feel.
He punched several holes into his business card and placed it over a touchscreen. With his eyes closed, he was able to know in which hole his finger is. Is it in first, second, third … And the phone also knew where his finger was. So he created a special Braille alphabet, where instead pins rising up and forming a letter, there are only holes to recognize a letter. One must touch all holes one by one and the phone would vibrate on the holes wherein normal Braille raised pins would be. So by knowing which hole one is touching and feeling if the phone is vibrating one can recognize individual letters.
Our first project was the development of a communicator for Db people. While working with the Db we connected with blind and visually impaired people (VI). We realized that with slightly different technology we can help an even larger group of people; that is how the idea of Feelif was born as a device for the blind and VI.
The Feelif Company was founded in 2015 and after two years of hard work of developing the technology, we presented our project to the public.
4. How many users do you have?
Right now we have a little over 1000 users in Europe and the USA.
5. You’ve had great success with different awards and recognition, how does that make you feel?
Feelif innovation has a definite impact on the lives of the Feelif team and everyone involved. It has united us in the spirit of creativity and connectivity, as we embark on an unknown journey. Already through the development period, it was clear to us that a lot of courage, diligence, and understanding would be needed. However, awards, recognition and the smile of a satisfied user always reinsure us that is all worth it and motivates us to work even harder.
6. What about the future? What’re your next steps?
Feelif devices have unlimited content development potential. Feelif allows sighted users, for example, parents and teachers to develop new content for blind and visually impaired children. Since we would like to offer the best digital content to our users we are currently developing a Feelif Open Platform, where digital content creators will be able to create content for blind and visually impaired and then sell it or offer it for free at the Feelif Open Platform. Therefore, we will be able to create more educational or entertainment digital content for blind and visually impaired and create a digital world more inclusive.
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