Magnolia gets grant to develop assistive device for people with vision disabilities

Asia-Pacific, July 10 2013

Fauxsee Innovations has won a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I award from the National Science Foundation to support the development of its Roboglasses assistive device for people with vision disabilities.

The Magnolia-based company, a client of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, is led by co-founders Brandon Foshee and Tim Zigler. Its Roboglasses are designed to dramatically reduce head and upper body injuries to people with vision disabilities, as well as reduce injuries inflicted upon those around them.

Man with disabilities uses Assistive Technology (Photo credit: RPI)More than 160 million people with vision disabilities worldwide could potentially benefit from using Roboglasses in conjunction with traditional mobility devices, such as the guide dog or walking cane, since these traditional technologies can’t protect the user from upper-body hazards.

Studies have shown that more than 46 percent of the 11.4 million people with vision disabilities in America experience head injuries at least once a month, with 23 percent of those injuries requiring medical attention.

Foshee, who has no light perception and uses a guide dog to navigate, said the idea for Roboglasses came after Zigler, his brother-in-law, met him and became curious about the lack of available modern technology to assist people with vision disabilities.

“I came up with the idea while backing up my car and listening for the beeps from my reverse detection system,” said Zigler. “I instantly called Brandon and told him my idea and he liked it. In the beginning it wasn’t a business idea at all, but simply a guy trying to help his brother-in-law out.”

Fauxsee Innovations engaged UALR’s Department of Engineering Technology and its rapid prototype facilities to execute the Roboglasses design and retained Dr. William H. Jacobson to provide domain expertise in mobility and orientation. Jacobson is professor and department chair of Counseling, Adult and Rehabilitation Education at UALR.

Zigler and Foshee worked extensively with ASBTDC’s innovation consultant, Rebecca Norman, on their SBIR proposal. At first, the two were overwhelmed by the steps required to participate in the SBIR progarm and were considering raising only private money to support their research and development efforts. “Rebecca Norman of the ASBTDC talked us back into going after SBIR funds, said Foshee. She not only encouraged us to try again but was there in the trenches with us every step of the way.”

Sharon Ballard of EnableVentures, Inc., and Innovate Arkansas also assisted with the development of their winning proposal and related commercialization approach. The company received Arkansas Science and Technology Alliance financial support for proposal preparation services.

“Without such support and hands-on assistance, we would have been as lost and in the dark as I am without Roboglasses,” said Foshee.

More than 160 million people with vision disabilities worldwide could potentially benefit from using Roboglasses in conjunction with traditional mobility devices, such as the guide dog or walking cane, since these traditional technologies can’t protect the user from upper-body hazards.

Studies have shown that more than 46 percent of the 11.4 million people with vision disabilities in America experience head injuries at least once a month, with 23 percent of those injuries requiring medical attention.

Foshee, who has no light perception and uses a guide dog to navigate, said the idea for Roboglasses came after Zigler, his brother-in-law, met him and became curious about the lack of available modern technology to assist people with vision disabilities.

“I came up with the idea while backing up my car and listening for the beeps from my reverse detection system,” said Zigler. “I instantly called Brandon and told him my idea and he liked it. In the beginning it wasn’t a business idea at all, but simply a guy trying to help his brother-in-law out.”

Fauxsee Innovations engaged UALR’s Department of Engineering Technology and its rapid prototype facilities to execute the Roboglasses design and retained Dr. William H. Jacobson to provide domain expertise in mobility and orientation. Jacobson is professor and department chair of Counseling, Adult and Rehabilitation Education at UALR.

Zigler and Foshee worked extensively with ASBTDC’s innovation consultant, Rebecca Norman, on their SBIR proposal. At first, the two were overwhelmed by the steps required to participate in the SBIR progarm and were considering raising only private money to support their research and development efforts. “Rebecca Norman of the ASBTDC talked us back into going after SBIR funds, said Foshee. She not only encouraged us to try again but was there in the trenches with us every step of the way.”

Sharon Ballard of EnableVentures, Inc., and Innovate Arkansas also assisted with the development of their winning proposal and related commercialization approach. The company received Arkansas Science and Technology Alliance financial support for proposal preparation services.

“Without such support and hands-on assistance, we would have been as lost and in the dark as I am without Roboglasses,” said Foshee.

Source: Magnolia Reporter

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