i3 - May/June 2018 - 40
By Sara Garvin
FAC E S O F I N N OVAT I O N
Oded Ben-Dov, CEO,
hover in one place with the cursor, a menu
pops up allowing you to tap, swipe, pinch
and more at the user's desired location. By
mimicking a user's basic operations like
tapping or swiping, we enable users to
access any app. The app doesn't know that
it is being controlled by a virtual headtracking cursor and not a finger.
Q Why is it important to create
The way we see it at Sesame, we have
a responsibility to apply cutting-edge
technology to those that need it most, and
the disabled community often lacks the
force or tech knowledge to bring change
about themselves, so we will do it for them.
As a society we are shifting towards a more
responsible, sustainable and versatile
culture. Caring for those facing extra challenges definitely falls in line with the mindset of creating accessible technology.
esame Enable CEO and Co-Founder Oded Ben-Dov
has developed the first touch-free smartphone app for
quadriplegics and people with disabilities. The handsfree app, called Open Sesame, enables people with disabilities
to operate smartphones through head movements and facial
recognition technology, bringing greater accessibility to people
with disabilities. i3 recently sat down with Ben-Dov to learn
about Sesame Enable.
Q What inspired you to create the company?
A About six years ago I was developing
apps and games for mobile phones, with a
focus on computer vision and image processing - where the computer understands
what the camera is seeing. I appeared on
Israeli TV to demonstrate a game I had
developed that was controlled using head
gestures. The user would chase the mobile
character around by moving his or her head.
The next day, I received a phone call from a
man saying, "Hi, I can't move my hands or
legs, could you make me a smartphone I can
use?" That man was Giora Livne, now my
co-founder at Sesame Enable. He saw the
technology, connected the dots, and realized the potential for him and people in his
condition. We met and the rest is history.
Q How does the product work?
A Our technology is an app on Google's
Play Store. Once downloaded, the app utilizes the front-facing camera, and Sesame's
proprietary algorithms track the user's
head movements with extreme precision.
These movements control an on-screen
cursor, so if you move your head to the
right the cursor goes to the right. Once you
Q How has your product helped
people with disabilities?
One Sesame user, Ori, was 7 years old
when I first met him. At the age of one, Ori
became paralyzed. When he received his
Sesame Enable phone, Ori was immediately
able to operate the phone and play games
like Angry Birds. Ori's experience reminds
me that technology can compensate for
things that he is missing out on. Once he
started playing Angry Birds, Ori played
the game wrong. He would pull the bird
up, causing it to fly into the ground, not
reaching its piggy target (Angry Birds
is a slingshot game for those who don't
know). This happened repeatedly until I
realized that Ori has never fired a slingshot
or thrown a ball. He doesn't get trajectory
like you and I. So I explained that when you
pull the bird down it flies up. He then went
on to complete dozens of levels successfully on his own. His therapist told me that
technology fills so many gaps for him. This is
one example of how Sesame Enable allows
people like Ori to gain new experiences and
accessibility. It's amazing to witness.
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N