Israeli Startups Get Google Grants to Develop Accessibility Technology for the Disabled

Two Israeli nonprofits are among 30 international winners of Impact Challenge grants from Google to promote technological innovations that will make the world more accessible for people with disabilities.

Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana received two grants. The first, for $1,000,000, was to develop a free product that will allow people with limited mobility to operate smartphones with head movements. The beta product, developed with the startup Sesame Enable, is now being distributed to individuals in Israel for testing before a global rollout.

Beit Issie Shapiro also received $700,000 to develop “Makeathon-in-a-Box” in conjunction with Tikkun Olam Makers, a project of the Tel Aviv-based Reut Group. Makeathon-in-a-Box is a template for community make-a-thons, which bring together inventors and people with disabilities to build prototypes for new solutions to accessibility challenges. Prototypes that come from the make-a-thons will be open source, and featured solutions will be available for purchase on Tikkun Olam Makers’ website.

National health-support organization Ezer Mizion of Bnei Brak won a $400,000 grant for its project with Israeli startup Click2speak to develop a keyboard controlled by eye tracking.

7.5 million people in the United States have trouble using their voices, and many of them also have impaired motor skills, making effective communication a daily struggle. Click2Speak CTO Gal Sont knows this too well, as he was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. Using eye movements, Sont programmed a user-friendly, affordable, and multilingual on-screen virtual keyboard controlled by eye tracking and an eye-operated communication system. The Impact Challenge grant will allow Ezer Mizion and Click2Speak to pilot the product, gather user feedback and improve the core technology.

(via Israel21c)

[Photo: Sesame Enable / YouTube ]