The Optimist Citizen

Youngsters develop tech that makes workspace compatible for People with disability

SAMATVA, a tech-startup run by young Indian techies is working on enhancing and developing tech that aids people with disability (PWD)and fits in perfectly at workspaces. Having successfully tested their product on 30 people, the group wishes to optimize workspaces in a way that it can readily employ the community.

The existing condition of people with disabilities is not hidden from us. We see them struggling each day while at work or at home or while crossing roads or even while using public transport. In India, 2.2 per cent of the population is disabled. They are often not employed despite qualifications because companies lack resources to make workspace conducive for them. The problem, however, is not in their disability but the lack of tech innovation which can enable them as resource persons. The existing tech is imported from western countries which are not pocket friendly and at the same time are high maintenance. It is this problem that cripples the life of people with disabilities. 

Finding the Gap in Corporate Space

Nihal Umesh Konan, a computer-science-engineer based in Bangalore often meddled with the idea of fixing this. The thought came to him when he saw his office colleague Rahul who is a hearing-impaired person. Rahul was assigned a sign language interpreter for interpreting the domain/technical training conducted by the company. The domain training was conducted for over 6 hours a day and 5 times a week. It was difficult for Rahul to communicate and understand most parts of the training which was mostly technical and not very easy to interpret. These are some of the problems faced by millions of differently-abled professionals in the corporate world. Nihal, upon research, found out that India alone has around 172 Million or 25% of the world’s differently-abled population. This is a staggering number and Nihal knew that he had to do something to benefit and impact the differently-abled community.   

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Samatva is an Automated Diversity HR & Recruitment Platform Integrated with Unique, Cost-effective & Feasible Innovations / Solutions for the Differently–Abled Community (Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired, Speech Impaired & Physically Disabled). The Vision of SAMATVA is to ease a company’s Differently-Abled Recruitment, Training, Talent Management and other HR processes while simultaneously benefitting the Differently-Abled People, Professionally & Educationally.

The team is still bootstrapped and operates from Nihal’s garage. SAMATVA is working on affordable yet accurate technology for PWD. It has been successful with the pilot test with a few of its gadgets, few of them are listed below :
  • Attachable Cochlea Anchored Conduction Earphones for the Hearing Impaired- The Cochlea anchored conduction earphones is a unique innovation that can be utilized by the hearing-impaired similar to regular earphones. This device simply needs to be connected to any digital device through the audio port. The sound is then converted into vibrations. In turn, this vibration passes to the inner ear of the hearing impaired people. Thus this device delivers sound to the hearing impaired people through bone conduction technology.
  • Cost-effective smart glass integrated with Image processing based Mobile application for the visually-impaired – It needs to be worn by the blind person. This smart glass has a hearing bud on either side that enables them to hear audio. It then has to be paired to a smartphone via Bluetooth. SAMATVA has built an image processing based mobile application that can read the text, identify objects and alert users of objects approaching them such as cars/bikes in traffic. The visually impaired person simply has to move his phone around and the object/text detection can be heard through the glasses.

SAMATVA was awarded the 3M – CII YICA 2020 award for their innovation. Nihal mentions how it has helped bring more Investment opportunities for them. The avenues would help to scale up their impact and become a successful startup. The prize fund also helped them manage the early costs like Patents, Institutionalization costs, modalities, etc.

SAMATVA - Innovations
Bluetooth enabled Integrated-Portable Braille Keyboard – Another Innovation by SAMATVA

Future Plans

Team SAMATVA has not yet released any of their products in the market just yet. They have applied for patents on their innovations and are working on producing market-finished products. Once they receive the patent and can make a market-ready product, they will start collecting and accepting funds. Creating pocket-friendly and up-to-date tech is the aim of SAMATVA that will help PWD in India. So far they have tested their products on 30 volunteers and all have been successful.

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Jackson P Jacob

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