A Touch-Free Smartphone the Disabled Can Control With Their Heads

Shortly after appearing on Israeli television with a new computer game you control merely by moving your head, Oded Ben Dov got a phone call.

It came from a complete stranger who just happened to see this TV appearance, and he had a question. “I wasn’t sure if it was a prank call or not, but then he started to say some serious stuff,” Ben Dov remembers. “So I listened.”

The man on the other end of the line was Giora Livne, a former Israeli navy commander and electrical power engineer. He’d been quadriplegic for seven years, he explained, which made it impossible to use a smartphone without help. That meant, among other things, seven long years without a private phone call or email or text message—seven years without much privacy at all.

Then Livne asked for help. “Could you make a smartphone that I could use?” he asked.

It’s taken two years, but Ben Dov has done just that. The Sesame Phone is a smartphone designed specifically for the mobility impaired. It uses computer vision technology to allow someone like Livne to access any app simply by moving his head. The phone is from Sesame Enable, a startup Ben Dov and Livne founded to bring the idea to life, and today the company is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise the $30,000 needed to continue developing the phone.

Sesame Phone is the latest example of how gesture and facial recognition technology are turning things like smartphones and tablets into vital communication devices for people with special needs. Just last month startup MotionSavvy launched an Indiegogo campaign for a device that translates sign language into spoken word.

To read the rest of this article, published in Wired, please click here.