During this new series of small blogs, we will focus on the winning participants of Startup in Residence The Hague 2018, powered by ImpactCity. What is the business idea of the entrepreneur and what drives him or her in doing good and doing business? This week is about Envision Technologies: using artificial intelligence to do good.
Envision is the winner of the challenge “The Hybrid Worker”: helping people with disabilities gain access to the labor market. Envision is a tool that uses artificial intelligence to make visual information accessible to visually impaired people. In other words: using computer intelligence to help people who are partially blind, to see and understand things they normally wouldn’t be able to independently.
The origin of Envision
Envision first started out as a thesis project by Karthik Mahadevan at TU Delft. After speaking to students at a school for the visually impaired in India, he had the idea that he could help by using his knowledge and skills.
Karthik found that the students wished to be able to work more independently. This triggered him, it was a challenge he wanted to solve. Together with his friend Karthik Kannan an experiment was set up. They built a prototype of an app that can read aloud written text, like newspapers, articles, letters, and signs. It was tested it India with visually impaired people, and it worked. That is how Envision came about.
Working with the government
When you set up a business that interacts highly with medical care, working with the government is essential. Karthik: “We have always been interested in working with the government because it is an important stakeholder in Envision. The government is the only institution that has the motivation for doing good for the public and also has access to the citizens. Startup in Residence showed us that the Municipality of the Hague is actually encouraging startups to solve this problem.”
Startup in Residence: a good opportunity
Actually, you could say that this challenge from Startup in Residence came at exactly the right time for Envision. “We chose specifically to work on this challenge for the Municipality of The Hague in order to be working more hands-on with the solution. The SIR program is a good opportunity for us to get a direct connection with the Municipality. By speaking to other participants of the program, and personal 1-on-1 sessions with various mentors, we have the opportunity to share expertise, understand our growth strategies, get consumer tech insights and see new things that we had not thought of before.”
The next steps
The next step for Envision is hardware. Envision is currently working on applying their software to glasses, so that the visually impaired can access visual information simply by viewing text through glasses.
We look forward to what they will present to us on Demo Day!
Read our blog next week about StemVeilig (vote safely): Faster, safe and easy voting.