I had the opportunity to interview Lawrence Bock (Founder of Illumina, Vertex, Neurocrine) and Suman Kanuganti of KastEye, a local company developing a Smart Glass solutions for Low Vision patients. Kast Eye has taken a personalized step to help those who can’t see increase their mobility. Using Smart Glasses such as Google Glass, Optinvent’s ORA1 and Vuzix’s M100 the wearer is connected to a real live person called a KastEye Agent who guides them through their day. The Agent acts as the eyes via a tiny camera on a Smart Phone.
Via a monthly subscription service, the wearer connects with an Agent for the time they would like that extra independence. For instance, going to an airport. The wearer would use the Agent to help navigate the airport, look for the gate numbers and get through security. Go bowling, go fishing, go shopping, go to a restaurant are all normal events that we take for granted but are huge challenges for those who cannot see.
The other advantage, the wearer builds a relationship with the agent. Each agent is carefully screened to match up with the wearer, they act more like a companion than a robotic voice. (No Siri here!) In a restaurant, the Agent can read the full menu and suggest food might like, when shopping the Agent can guide to the right place and match up the clothing. As the relationship develops, the Agent becomes a companion and a friend. How great is that!
I asked Lawrence Bock, why he decided to invest in this. ‘As a low vision person, this is exactly what I was looking for and that is why I decided to put in the seed financing’. He feels that this has been the most useful low vision tool that gives him mobility, independence and companionship.
Based in San Diego, KastEye is still in development stages and have started testing. Working with Foundation Fighting Blindness, they look to be on the market within the year.