To navigate the world without the sense of sight can be complicated. While Braille allows people with visual disabilities to read, they are still unable get around without the help of canes or guide dogs to identify certain objects or without external help, which continues being an impasse.
To try to solve this problem, the young Ecuadorian mechanical engineer, Carlos Andrés Obando, created the start-up called Talov. The main objective is to create technology so that the visually impaired have more independence and a better quality of life. To this end, Talov created an app called SpeakLiz Vision, which helps identify objects, colors and even words. Thanks to this advancement, the young Carlos Andrés has been awarded as a winner of the Latin American Innovators under 35 from the MIT Technology Review LATAM edition.
SpeakLiz Vision uses AI in real time to recognize images, such as the ones on paper money with its different denominations, thanks to an immense image data base. The App is free and it can also be used to read texts to the user. It is even capable of recognizing the color of objects, which is something very useful when it's time to buy clothes or when you pick out clothes. The application works in 35 languages and is not dependent of internet access. Its creator mentioned, "We want to give more independence to visually impaired people.” The perspective to achieve this goal centers itself on the fact that most people already have a smartphone.
Aside from SpeakLiz Vision, the first creation of Obando, SpeakLiz, was addressed to people who were hearing impaired. This app translates sign language to voice and text in real time and allows for communication between deaf people and those who do not understand sign language to happen. The app also recognize voices and sounds that can't be perceived by deaf people, such as fire alarms and doorbells and lets the user know something is ringing. The young man explains, “I have always thought that technology should be used to solve social challenges, that has always been my motivation.”
The director of the Scientific and Technological Park of Pando, Uruguay, Fernando Amestoy, member of the jury for the 2019 Latin American Innovators under 35, thinks the project “is innovative and I value that Obando has the technical background and the experience of empowerment needed to foresee a good possibility of success.”