A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smartphones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports.
Wheelchair bound for nine years, quadriplegic electrical power engineer Giora Livne is determined not to be left behind by technology. Keen to use a smart phone, Livne joined forces with app developer Oded Ben Dov to create a device that responds to head movements. And this is the result. The Sesame Phone is customised to the user's face and allows them to select applications and move the curser. SOUNDBITE (English) CO-FOUNDER OF ISRAELI COMPANY SESAME ENABLE, GIORA LIVNE, SAYING: "I can do everything with the phone. I can call, I can receive calls, I can use SMS, WhatsApp, I can play games and in the very, very near future I will be able to operate a lot of things at home." And Livne has big plans. SOUNDBITE (English) CO-FOUNDER OF ISRAELI COMPANY SESAME ENABLE, GIORA LIVNE, SAYING: "The next step will be driving the car with the iphone, or with the telephone, and of course, my aim is to get to the moon with the phone." Sesame has tested the phone on 10 different users with different forms of paralysis. And if Chani Shalevet's reaction is an indication, it's proving a success. WOMAN WITH IMPAIRED MOBILITY, CHANI SHALEVET, SAYING: "From my personal account, I still don't have communication with the outside world, in terms of technology, and the progressive world and with this application, an opportunity has opened up and gives me and many people an equal chance to be like everyone." While the phone has been designed for the mobility-impaired, Ben Dov believes it may have wider appeal. SOUNDBITE (English) CO-FOUNDER OF ISRAELI COMPANY SESAME ENABLE, ODED BEN DOV, SAYING: "You can imagine using it in the kitchen while you're cooking and your hands are messy, while driving perhaps, any task that revolves (involves) your hands and you need to do something on top of that." Sesame has launched a crowd-funding campaign to complete the development stage, and the pair hope millions could soon benefit from the technology.