As a team believing that full and equal participation in social life is an indispensable right for everyone, we have been working on the smart cane WeWALK for visually impaired people for 2 years. However, for us this journey began much earlier than WeWALK.
The first technology we developed was in 2011, a smartphone application called My Dream Companion.In fact, my dream Companion is more than an app; with new technologies that we constantly add, My Dream Companion is a platform where visually impaired people can access many technologies through a single app.
With My Dream Companion, for the first time visually impaired people started to access audiobooks, columns and magazines anywhere, anytime through one single platform. There are thousands of books and magazines now available through my Dream Companion and these contents are listened to for millions of minutes by the visually impaired.
The second technology that we developed for My Dream Companion app is indoor navigation. There are many navigation applications used by the visually impaired in the open spaces, but we have developed our own technology because the GPS does not work in closed spaces such as metros and shopping malls. At the moment, at 28 shopping malls, the visually impaired can hear the names of the stores they pass in front of them and learn what is sold in that store by simply using the My Dream Companion app.
The third technology in the My Dream Companion app is audio description in the cinemas. First of all, I should say that as visually impaired people, yes we love movies and yes we watch them. However, we have to admit that there are many silent scenes in movies, sometimes they even have silent endings which make it harder to understand what happens at the end.
We are improving the cinema experience of the visually impaired using voice recognition technology in My Dream Companion. My Dream Companion listens to the sound of the movie like the Shazam app, understands which part of the movie is currently playing on the screen, and describes the silent scenes to the visually impaired person with our descriptive text prepared beforehand.
We became strategic partners with Turkcell, Turkey’s biggest mobile operator, to develop these technologies. The technologies are delivered by Turkcell to thousands of visually impaired people. With its underlying innovations for the visually impaired, My Dream Companion was awarded with many prizes such as GSMA2014, Meffys, GSMA 2016 and shown as best proven practise at United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Now, We have been working on WeWALK day and night, and aim to deliver first WeWALKs to their owners in March. We will talk more about WeWALK in our next articles. Stay well and expect more news from us!