Oded Bendov and Giora Livne are still digesting their good news.
A few weeks ago they completed the sale of 50 smartphones in an Indiegogo campaign that raised $32,202. Not long after, they nabbed first place for Verizon’s Powerful Answers award. The prize haul? $1 million.
Their invention is the Sesame Phone, a device tailored to read a person’s head movements so they never have to touch the phone with their hands. The phone was built for those living with paralysis, but its creators say even the able-bodied could find its “touchless” tech useful one day.
“When you design for people with disabilities you’re designing for the lowest common denominator of escapability,” says Oded Bendov, a software programmer with a background in mobile gaming.
Bendov created the Sesame Phone two years ago when he went on an Israeli television show to talk about a new mobile game you could control with head movements.
Not long after, he got a phone call, and a raspy voice asked if Bendov could create a smart phone he could use.
“I can’t move my hands or legs,” the voice said.
On the other end was Giora Livne, an Israeli naval veteran who had become a quadriplegic eight years earlier when he fell of a ladder.
Till then, Livne had been forced to rely on his carer, who didn’t speak or read Hebrew all that well, to send texts and read the messages on his phone. The hard part wasn’t so much the lack of independence. It was the lack of privacy.
Livne advised Bendov on the development of the Sesame Phone and finally started using it six months ago. Now he only needs to move his head slightly to activate an old style cursor on the screen of the phone, allowing him to “tap” or “swipe” with the right movements. He turns on the phone by saying “Open Sesame.”
Read the full feature on Forbes.