Whiz kids in India are coming up with new technology to make the lives of the specially-abled smoother and more comfortable. From an electric wheelchair for rough Indian terrain, an AI-driven app for the autistic to digital braille for the visually impaired to a device that helps throat cancer patients get their voice back, the startup ecosystem has lots to offer for atmanirbhar Persons with Disabilities (PwD).
We are vocal for local award-winning Indian startups creating assistive technology for PwDs that are being recognised for innovation all over the world.
1. Demosthenes Technologies
The company makes various products, one among them generating interest is Stamurai. Speech therapy app Stamurai is meant for people who stutter or stammer. It’s developed by a bunch of stutterers themselves. They found these speech therapy exercises helping in their journey of conquering the speech disorder. Through constant practice of the exercises in the app, the stutterer can hope to achieve near-perfect fluency and overcome the daily struggles they face. For Stamurai, Demosthenes Technologies is among the winners of BIRAC- Social Alpha Quest for Assistive Technologies- Supported by Mphasis.
2. Indent Designs
Indent Designs is a research and development firm. They have come up with ‘Ibex’, an electric wheelchair for rough Indian terrain. The product made it to the top 100 startups in 2019 Maharashtra StartUp week and has won the 2017 iPrenuer award.
Ibex was designed by a team of 5 young guys from the startup in consultation with physiotherapists and designers from Industrial Design Centre (IIT Bombay). This electric wheelchair can be modified to meet the needs of persons with different physical disabilities. It is cost-effective, easy to service and doesn’t require high maintenance.
3. SM Learning Skills Academy for Special Needs
AI-driven CogniAble Tech uses advanced machine learning on data captured during a child’s assessment and treatment process of Autism. The outcome is a screening result and a customised behavioural treatment plan that records provisions on a web and a mobile interface. The startup won top honours at the Data Innovation Bazaar held in collaboration with Startup India and Invest India. It bagged the prestigious IIGP 2.0 Grant by DST, Lockheed Martin and Tata Trusts.
4. Inceptor Technologies
Braille Me is an extremely affordable tablet for the visually impaired developed by the team at Inceptor Technologies (Innovision).
Braille Me gives users instant mobile connectivity and access to books in Braille. The portable tablet is powered by patented Braille cell technology. It has been tested for rough terrain and harsh weather. The body of the tablet can sustain drops to the ground from a person’s eye-level.
Inceptor Technologies joined the ranks of award-winning Indian startups with Braille Me. It has won the Touch of Genius Prize by National Braille Press USA and the 2018 CSUN at San Diego. It was recognized as among 9 best hardware social innovations globally by American Society for Mechanical Engineers at the 2017 ASME ISHOW in New York.
5. Innaumation Medical Devices
Throat cancer treatment and the suffering that comes with the illness can be hard on patients. It’s worse that they lose their voice and have to use expensive technical gear to communicate. Oncologist Vishal Rao developed a low-cost prosthetic voice box, called Aum Voice Prosthesis (AUM) for just such a voiceless patient who asked him for an affordable solution. “The patient could not afford the expensive prostheses. He was so poor that he didn’t have money to even pay the registration fee at the hospital. All that he said was, ‘I have heard that they put a voice box here for Rs. 50 and I have come to try it out,” the inventor told a news portal.
With the help of friend Shashank Mahesh, manufacturers, suppliers and scientists who donated their time, he came up with AUM, which weighs one gram and takes only 15 minutes to surgically implant. The voice won’t be the same as it was before the surgery, but the prosthetic allows the patient to communicate, especially if he can’t afford the traditional ones. His team went on to win the Silver Prize at the 2019 Aarohan Social Innovation Awards established by the CSR arm of Infosys. The Indian government has approached Rao to make his $1 invention available on a larger scale.
6. Flexmotiv Technologies
Startup Flexmotiv Technologies has invented Flexmo, the world’s first self-standing crutch. Flexmo is a fresh design of Axillary crutch for divyangjan (people with locomotor disabilities). It’s all-terrain, slip-proof, comfortable and durable so it’s great for travel.
The idea came to its inventor, Srinivas Adepu, when he was a student at IIT-Delhi and a friend met with an accident that forced him to use crutches for a while. One of his first semester assignments was to improvise on an existing product. Srinivas chose the crutch and went on to create Flexmo, along with college friend Arvind Suresh Ambalapuzha. They founded the startup Flexmotiv Technologies, which became a part of IIT Delhi’s incubation centre, Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer. The startup was awarded $1,000 Fan Favourite Prize at 2020 ISHOW India for Flexmo.
7. Trestle Labs
Trestle Labs is another of the award-winning Indian startups in Assistive Technology with the vision to make the world’s resources inclusive for people with print and learning disabilities. The startup won the NASSCOM Design for India Award 2018 for Kibo.
Kibo is the world’s first Inclusive Reading and Learning platform for people with Print and Learning disabilities that makes any kind of printed, handwritten and digital content accessible in real-time through audio. It’s an immersive reading and learning experience at par with their sighted peers. Trestle Labs wants PwDs to read and learn all that they aspire to and not just what is accessible for them through Braille or audiobooks.