World’s First Hands-Free Smartphone For Disabled Users Revealed

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Sesame Enable is donating its first 30 touch-free smartphones to disabled users

Israeli startup Sesame Enable is preparing to ship the first units of what it calls the first entirely hands-free smartphone, aimed at disabled users.

The company, which has raised more than $38,000 (£24,700) via an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, said it plans to ship the first units to disabled people next month, funded by Indiegogo contributions.

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The company has also been funded by a grant from the Israeli government that was matched by a private angel investor, and won a $1m prize from Verizon last year.

Sesame Enable’s technology runs on a Galaxy Nexus 5 smartphone, using the device’s front-facing camera to track the user’s head movements, allowing them to control a cursor.

The company customises the handsets with its technology before delivery, giving the software root access that allows it to control all the phone’s functions. The handset is activated by speaking the words “open sesame”.

Sesame Enable’s co-founder Giora Livne is himself disabled, the 65-year-old quadriplegic having lost all but the smallest movements in his neck in an accident nine years ago.

Livne, who is trained as an electrical engineer, saw a television programme about a game controlled by head movements, and contacted the game’s designer, Oded Ben Dov, a mobile software developer specialising in computer vision. The two founded Sesame Enable together.

Handset donations

Sesame plans to sell its devices for $1,000 each, and said it is using the Indiegogo funds to donate 30 devices to disabled people. The first five named recipients include an injured former Israeli soldier and a British boy with muscular dystrophy.

The company is planning to ship a Sesame-enabled Android tablet in June, selling it for $900 via Indiegogo.

Livne said he now uses the handset to communicate with his family, and the company believes the technology could allow disabled people to operate Internet-connected devices, including televisions, home heating systems and other household products.

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