Shalom Life | February 23, 2015

Israelis Develop First Touch-Free Smartphone Allowing Disabled to Control Phones By Nodding

Sesame Enable's new smartphone, the first of its kind, could serve millions of people with disabilities worldwide

By: Jordana Wolf, NoCamels

Published: February 20th, 2015 in Business » Israel

Israelis Develop First Touch-Free Smartphone Allowing Disabled to Control Phones By Nodding

Photo: Man uses smartphone just by nodding

Credit: NoCamels


Sesame Enable’s touch-free smart phone, the first of its kind, will allow users to control their phone without ever lifting a finger. Imagine making a call, taking a picture, or even playing a game with just the nod of your head. Designed exclusively for the mobility impaired, the Sesame phone was developed by techy entrepreneur Oded Ben Dov and former electrical engineer Giora Livne, who became a quadriplegic following a serious accident nine years ago. Frustrated by his inability to order his wife flowers or make private phone calls, among other things, Livne needed to find a way to re-connect with our constantly connected world.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only disabled person feeling cut-off from a world of smartphone data. Inspired by Livne’s predicament, Ben Dov set out to create a device that could serve the millions of people with disabilities worldwide. Three years and one crowdfunding campaign later, the Sesame Enable team plans to release its first batch of touch-free devices to beta users in March, giving people with motor disabilities long-desired access to the ultimate tool of the information age – the smartphone.

Just say ‘Open Sesame’

When users receive their Sesame phone next month, it will be ready to use right out of the box. To help make the transition to using a smartphone as easy as possible, no installation is required; all users have to do is say “Open Sesame” and their phone will turn on and begin working. The front-facing camera on the phone uses computer vision technology to capture key points on the user’s face, activating a cursor that allows the user to navigate the functions on their phone with a nod of the head. This application of computer vision technology to existing smartphone technology allows users make calls play games, use apps, send texts and browse the web without ever touching a screen.

As seemless as it may sound, the software and design for the Sesame phone took some time to hash out. Ben Dov and his team researched and worked with people with different motor disabilities, individuals they were able to gain access to by participating in the world’s first start up accelerator for special needs, A3I (Accelerating Inclusion in Israel). According to Ben Dov, this opportunity was key in making Sesame Enable’s technology as accessible as possible, “The more you meet with different people you realize that there are a lot of different movements, postures, and positions unique to each person. Every time we met with someone new, we faced new challenges. We wanted to make sure to create a system that would be optimal for everyone,” he tells NoCamels.

This article was first published on NoCamels - Israeli Innovation News and was re-posted with permission. To continue reading this article on the site, click here.

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