It all started on November 2013, when one of our members, innovator Mr Željko Khermayer, watched broadcast about deafblind people and how they live with disability. He was deeply moved but also horrified, that those people are so lonely; because available technology for communications is so expensive and is unreachable for most deafblind people.
Under strong impression and faith, that our 4WEB team can help those people, he started to search for solution. He had a vision that smartphones and tablets can become devices, which deafblind people could use in their everyday life. Knowing, that deafblind people read Braille, the main problem was how to display bump on a flat surface of touch screen. The second problem was how to let a deafblind person know where is the end of one Braille code. Soon he came up with an idea.
His main idea was to imitate bumps, which are used in Braille alphabet, with vibrations on flat screen. After developing a program which allowed him to choose areas which will vibrate as he will touch them, he did some tests with a hard paper with holes to imitate grid on a flat surface. He established that with grid on a touch screen and vibrations on specified points, you can recognize individual letters of Braille alphabet. We discovered that this method is so unique, that has never been used before for such purpose, so we patented it.
After the first, but very important steps, our 4WEB team developed a special application for touch screen devices, which translate letters into Braille code. Touch screen device, our application and specially designed relief grid we named The Real Deaf Blind Communicator. With the RDB Communicator it was finally possible for deafblind people to read text directly from internet, write or read text messages or e-mails, play simple games where grid is needed and make a SOS phone call.
Our invention was presented to few deafblind, blind and visually impaired people. The results were amazing! We had 100% success. It took only 5 minutes for blind person to learn how to use RDB Communicator. It took only 30 minutes for deafblind person to learn how to write and read their name. These were amazing results.
In November 2014, we attended the 9th Slovenian Innovation Forum. Our invention, the RDB Communicator, placed us among the finalists.
On the beginning of the year 2015 we wanted to raise funds to fully develop RDBC with help of Indiegogo platform. With low visit of little more then 900 people, we gathered only 80£. Visitors were mostly from our mailing list. The campaign was not successful, because we didn't succeed in raising media attention, but we learned the lesson.
In April 2015, Mr Željko Khermayer attended the Investment Ready Program, which is run by Impact Hub Vienna. Our RDB Communicator was chosen as one of top three projects so Mr Željko Khermayer received an invitation to pitch on CEE Impact day in Vienna.
On 20th of May 2015 we attended one of the largest EU exhibitions for aids for the blind and the visually impaired called SightCity, which took place in Frankfurt. Sadly we established that market for deafblind people is very narrow, so chances, that we could reach them, are very small. On the other hand we realized that our technology can be used to help blind learn Braille alphabet.
On 19th of June, Mr Željko Khermayer attended on CEE Impact day in Vienna as representative speaker of RDBC project, where he presented our invention – The Real Deaf Blind Communicator (RDBC).
All that experience and the knowledge we have gathered lead us to a new idea. We realized that our tactile technology can be used for sensing shapes. And combining that tactile technology with sound, voice, music and colour would make a great learning aid for blind and visually impaired people. We saw an opportunity to help even bigger group of people. In August 2015 FEELIF was born. FEELIF was designed as multimedia device for blind and visually impaired people.
At the end of August 2015 FEELIF was presented on the Institute for the Blind and Partially Sighted Children Ljubljana in front of forty teachers. Responses have been so positive that we continued with workshops for blind and visually impaired children in the same Institute in next month.
September 2015 we presented Feelif to blind children. Kids liked it. This meeting gave us so much positive energy. Working with children was amazing.
In November 2015 we received invitation from society of parents of blind children. They wanted to hear all about our invention FEELIF. Meeting was in Okroglo near Naklo Slovenia, where all parents expressed a desire to own FEELIF.
On 27th of November 2015 innovator Mr Željko Khermayer attended Tournament of social innovation, organized by Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. We won 1st place.
On 12th of May 2016 on conference PODIM Feelif was got diploma for being finalist of the Slovenian Startup of the year 2016.
On 15th of May 2016 EIB announced that Feelif is one of the finalist of the EIB Social Innovation Tournament. We are in elite group of 15 companies that were selected into finale.
On 30th of June 2016 Feelif was presented on CEE Impact Day 2016 in Vienna. There were quite a few people interested in Feelif.
On 14th of November 2016 we got three (3) diplomas in 3 different categories:
- Start-up of the year by SAP
- Best social impact start-up by BSCH
- Best early stage start-up
On 15th of November 2016 Feelif becomes New Europe 100 challenger in Brussels. We are happy to inform you that we've been chosen to the third edition of the New Europe 100 list, a list of outstanding challengers who are leading world-class innovation from Central and Eastern Europe. The project is organized by Res Publica together with the Visegrad Fund, Google and Financial Times. Innovator of Feelif Mr Željko Khermayer was selected as one of 100 best innovators in Central and Eastern Europe.
Innovator Mr Željko Khermayer (left) and Mr Franc Bogovič, Slovenian MEP
On 28th of November 2016 Feelif was finalist at Zagreb Connect & EBAN WU.
Mr Albert Colomer I Espinet and Mr Željko Khermayer
On 8th of December Feelif joined the international campaign under the auspices of UNESCO and with over 50 partners from all over the world. Feelif received kindly invitation from Center for Innovation and Technology Commercialization Foundation. We were officially invited to join the international campaign that they organize it under the auspices of UNESCO and with over 50 partners from all over the world. The "Bringing tech&science closer to people" campaign is a first of it's kind digital initiative aimed at celebrating the greatest tech&science explorers, innovators and inventors as well as the world changing projects they are working on. The goal is to support easier knowledge exchange and build the network of doers&makers, where top-notch innovative projects from all over the world are boosted with ideas, cooperation proposals, business offers. Feelif was recommended into Natural Sciences & Healthcare category.
In December 2016 Feelif got first ambassadors.
We are proud that parents of blind children have faith in us. Nothing is more real and nothing is more deep as love of the parents, who wants best for their children. That is why these words are so special for us:
Jera Rak (mother of blind girl and in the name of the parents of visual and impaired kids):
Parents of blind and visual impaired kids see the benefit of Feelif’s team work in a simple and an innovative approach; the source of idea is an honest readiness to help other, at the same time the idea is a reflection of social responsibility FeelIf’s team (they really do care!). Their highly experienced and wide knowledge, innovativeness and openness for improvements are the key to success. The contribution of Feelif is priceless, it offers our kids to see/feel the world differently, in details... That is why we parents deeply believe in Feelif!
Maja Koritnik (mother of blind girl):
I’m a mother of a blind girl. She attends 6th grade in a normal primary school. At home as well as at school we are faced with many challenges.
When Mr Željko introduced Feelif, I was thrilled about the idea. The product was initially developed to help the literacy for the blind and visually impaired and deaf-blind. Because we successfully completed this phase already, I asked myself, how thiscould be beneficial for us, for example for older kids. That’s how I imagined a plotted graph on a tablet, a complex function, so that with the help of Feelif my daughter could see as well. It’s true that you can draw the function on the positive film. But if you want a quick check to see how it looks, you can transfer it onto Feelif. This means that there’s no need to search all the features that are safely tucked in math binder.
But when I learned more about Feelif, I am pleased to note that the application at the moment when it is placed on a tablet or a smartphone, combines several technical aids needed by the blind into one. A lot of valuable applications also represent the fact that we didn’t take up any extra space. When using almost all technical devices, the blind are forced to sit at the table making it impossible for them to be moved. Feelif makes it just that, it can be used anywhere, anytime. Without the user being dependent on the source of the electricity or the room...
We look forward to the day when Feelif will live on the market, find the way to the end users and will be affordable to all.
Mrs Jera Rak with girls and Mrs Maja Koritnik
In January 2017 Feelif got an important ambassador - Technology Park Ljubljana. Its representative is Mrs Marjana Majerič, M.Sc. Deputy General Manager
Having a blind person in your life opens a whole new dimension of internal and external considerations and confronts us with different aspects of feelings: sympathy, anger, questions of why and how, confidence, awareness, hope and in the end, gratitude for all new experiences.
Technology Park Ljubljana Ltd. believes that Feelif's technology is introducing a new dimension of power for humanity since the »higher« purpose is to assure that every person can »see« in their own way, with their own »touch« and according to their own »ability«. We firmly believe Feelif’s technology will in the very near future prove to have a number of benefits far beyond our line of »sight«.
Feelife’s team put courage and enthusiasm in their product, and have overcome limits of the impossible by creating a path to the possible.
Their »eye-print« is an evolution of something that in the past could only be imagined . We believe that Feelif is introducing us to a special dimension of possibilities that are now at our reach.
Technology park Ljubljana Ltd. hopes that the Feelif's goals will be achieved also through our support and stimulatory business environment which we are gladly providing with the same enthusiasm and courage … thus for us being an ambassador of Feelif is a privilege and an honour.
Mrs Marjana Majerič, M.Sc. Deputy General Manager of Technology Park Ljubljana Ltd.
On 14th of February we were selected to present Feelif on Webit Festival Europe in Sofia.