Eye Focus ideas Hack: Using technology to improve the lives of blind young people

Courtney, Naomi and Kevin

The first week of January is always exciting in the tech world, companies from across the world flock to Las Vegas for the annual CES show, showing off the latest in electronics innovation from smart fridges and hairbrushes to drones and virtual reality headsets. Here at RSBC we can’t help but get excited. We know how much the lives of vision impaired people have changed over the last 10 years, since Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone, and we are always looking for the next big thing. Right now, our heads are spinning with ideas about how blind young people could benefit from the latest virtual reality headsets and smart fridges, to name but a few.

Eye Focus ideas hack round-up

Buzzing with these ideas, we recently partnered with Eye Focus, an eye care innovation program, to host an Idea Hack to investigate some of these possibilities. We invited innovators from across eye care and experts from vision impairment organisations to join with vision impaired young people and their families to tackle some of the biggest challenges they face.

Could a smart phone Monitor eye health?

With the increasing prevalence of health trackers, to track your diet, your activity, your sleep, we started to think about how you could use your phone to monitor your eye health, or that of your child. Particularly with degenerative conditions, how could we develop tools that would allow recording of data on a daily basis, tracking progress over time, giving ophthalmologists and researchers access to more data which could assist with treatment plans or diagnoses?

Could driverless technology power a wearable device to help blind people navigate safely?

There is excitement across the sight loss sector when it comes to driverless cars, and the opportunity of total independent travel they offer to many vision impaired people. Attendees posed the question, could the combination of technologies used to ensure driverless cars can move around safely, be developed into a wearable device for blind people?

Connecting with the community

But the most exciting ideas for us, as always, explored opportunities to further social interaction. How can families who feel isolated following a diagnosis use it to reach out to another family with a young child, how can a blind child in the playground use it to find another child to play with, how can a vision impaired young person use it to get to their train on time?

What if there was an app that allowed you to post that you were hosting a play date, and that you had space for another child with or without a vision impairment? With existing apps like MomCo, built in the US, we’d love to explore how to build in tips for inclusive playdates and support parents of vision impaired children to connect with families in their area.

Could technology help children to make friends in the playground?

An idea we return to time and time again is how can we support blind children to make friends in the playground: if you can’t see very well how do you know which group you want to join at playtime? There are exciting initiatives across Australia and the US such as #Youcansitwithme and No-One Eats Alone but could technology help initiatives like this go further? The concept would not only have applications in the playground, but also when you are at a conference or networking event and you want to catch up with a particular person or company. Within specific venues, how can we use existing technologies to allow particular individuals to come together?

Uber for Guides

The last one we like to call ‘Uber for Guides’. In the same way that ride sharing services allow you to book travel in someone’s back seat if you are travelling in the same direction, what if you could book assistance from a member of the public who was going in the same direction as you? If you know you are travelling from London to Manchester tomorrow or you always travel from Bromley South to Angel for work, imagine being able to link up with someone who was taking the same journey who could give you assistance as and when you needed it?

Have you got what it takes to make these ideas reality?

This is where you come in. Who ever you are, if any of these ideas get you excited and you think you, or someone you know, could be the one to make it happen, get in touch.
Please email me at katherine.payne@rsbc.org.uk or give me a call on 0203 198 0214.

Find out more about Eye Focus

Do you want to know more about Eye Focus? – come along to their conference on the 31st January where our Director of Corporate Development Florence Orban will be speaking – more information here.

You can also find out more about assistive technology and our work relating to indoor navigation with the #Wayfindr standard by visiting our Tech Hub pages.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+