German startup Project ELI develops Bluetooth sticker technology that will communicate with smartphones to warn the visually impaired of hazards in the area.
In today’s bustling world, navigating safely is not always an easy task for the visually impaired. There are modes of assistance in place such as guide dogs, canes, and audible signal devices at pedestrian crosswalks, but what about wet floor signs and construction area hazards?
A German startup, called Project ELI, had the same question and chose to answer it by coming up with beacon technology that could assist the visually impaired in navigating hazards.
“A friend of ours was complaining about nearly falling on the wet floor,” says Project Eli cofounder Markus Beringer. “We wanted to work out how to bring these signs into the 21st century.”
Project ELI’s 21st century solution is outfitting hazard warnings, such as wet floor signs, with a sticker that uses Bluetooth 4.0. The sticker will then send signals to an app on the user’s smartphone, which runs in the background once it is downloaded. The company currently has a working prototype, which gives a verbal warning and can be set to vibrate in the user’s pocket, then opened for further details on the hazard.
Coming to Fruition
Though Project ELI is only in its early stages, having been conceived by its three young founders in February of this year, they’re certainly on the move. The team is ambitious, and working their way through channels to find funding and support for their quest. The company has spoken with organizations for the blind, and said they’ve managed to pique some interest.
“We spoke with a guy from one organization who thinks it’s a great idea, and can really improve lives. Not everyone can afford a guide dog,” Beringer said in an interview.
The team also thinks that their technology could become compulsory in places of work, construction sites, public transport facilities and more. The technology that Project ELI uses can be easily integrated into devices at the point of manufacturing and Beringer argues that companies would sign up because it’s good for their image and branding.
“Their rating will go up on the Dow Jones sustainability index,” he said.
The team is currently in talks with a German company to discuss testing the device in a new building, a phase that could begin as early as next year. In the mean time, Project ELI is gearing up for several tech events they will be attending. This week the team joined a select group of 100 startups to meet top mentors from the US and Europe at Startup Istanbul in Turkey, and in November they will be attending Web Summit, in Dublin, Ireland.