July 20, 2016 –Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced that RenewSense was selected to enter Brainnovation, Israel’s Brain Technologies accelerator.
RenewSenses, based on research from the lab of Professor Amir Amedi, from the Department of Medical Neurobiology at The Hebrew University and the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Science, develops devices that can aid the blind and visually-disabled to navigate using other senses like sound and touch. One such device is the EyeCane, a small flashlight-like device which uses components that translate distance into sound and vibrations. The device translates the distance to a target into a corresponding frequency of auditory and tactile cues, enabling the user “to feel” the world around her or him within a range of up to five meters. The EyeCane can augment a white cane with further distance and wider angles, protecting from high obstacles, and offers a non-obtrusive way to explore one’s environment. After only five minutes of training users can estimate distances, avoid obstacles and successfully navigate in simple environments.
Another product is EyeMusic, which uses musical notes to convey information on any given scene, colors, shapes and location of objects. Users wear a miniature camera connected to a smartphone or small computer and stereo headphones. The images are converted into “soundscapes” using an algorithm, allowing the user to listen and then interpret the visual information coming from the image. After training, blind individuals can recognize the letters of the alphabet, “see” pictures of animals, and even find an object-such as a pair of shoes or a person-in a complex visual landscape. A new version of this device is available free of charge on the Apple App Store and Google Play, offering significant new advantages such as an inbuilt self-training program and games.
“Amazing research is currently being conducted at Professor Amedi’s Lab for Brain and Multisensory Research. The group studies the brain activity of blind people and challenges conventional wisdom by which the brain is divided into distinct regions mainly by the sensory input. They demonstrate that people have the ability to take information from one sense and present it in another, thus enabling blind people to “see” by using other senses such as touching or hearing,” stated Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum. “Joining Brainnovation will assist RenewSenses to swiftly bring the devices developed based on this understanding, EyeCane and EyeMusic, to the visually impaired community.”
“Our mission is to provide a true solution for the blind and visually impaired, based on the natural brain function that utilizes other senses like hearing and touching in order to compensate for the loss of vision,” said Daphna Rosenbaum, Managing Director, RenewSenses. “The Brainnovation program is a great opportunity for RenewSenses to gain knowledge and guidance on how to succeed in the braintech ecosystem”.
Israel Brain Technologies (IBT) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to turn Israel into a global brain technology and research hub. Brainnovations is IBT’s launchpad program promoting early stage startups. The program provides chosen startups with everything they need in order to build a successful venture in the brain space. The first group of eight braintech startups graduated from the program in February 2016. RenewSenses is one of the eight ventures that are now embarking on the second cycle of Brainnovations.