'Roboglasses' from FauxSee Innovations Help Visually Impaired

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 12:00 am  

Tim Zigler, left in inset, and Brandon Foshee formed Fauxsee to sell Roboglasses, a device that helps the visually impaired avoid head and upper body injury. The original Roboglasses prototype (below), designed by Tim Zigler, was simply a pair of sunglasses with parking aid sensors attached.

The prototype was simple: Zigler attached the parking aid sensors to a pair of normal glasses. “I rigged up a hip pack that attaches to a belt buckle, and I tested it by walking around the house,” Zigler said. “I was pretty thrilled with it.”

In June 2011, Zigler mailed the prototype to Foshee, who loved it. “The information that it gave me was really useful,” Foshee said. “It was great.”

Great, but not perfect.

“The downside to it was that the beeps were annoying and distracting,” he said. “For example, if you’re standing there talking to somebody, it was continuously beeping. It was distracting for other people as well as yourself. You could put in earphones where other people couldn’t hear it, but then you couldn’t hear what was going on. It’s especially important for blind people to hear the environment you’re in.”

FauxSee

The pair started talking about how to improve the device.

Foshee and Zigler tossed around different methods of alerting the user, including sound and vibration, but decided a third option would be best.

“We decided that what needed to be done was come up with a unique language that doesn’t use sound or vibration, because they just haven’t worked,” Foshee said. “So the sight-impaired individual can take advantage of that good information without the side effects.”

They figured out what the “unique language” would be, but Zigler said it will remain under wraps until the product is further along in development. The pair then applied for a patent and formed FauxSee Innovations — a pun on Foshee, who serves as president and CEO. Along the way they became clients of Innovate Arkansas.

They then began hashing out ideas for selling the product. They started at Southern Arkansas University, which both had attended as undergraduates. SAU helped them formulate a business plan, and then referred them to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Small Business & Technology Development Center.

There, they connected with Innovation Consultant Rebecca Norman. “We helped break down for them how best they could use the strategies of the SBTDC,” she said.

The two were able to take advantage of the center’s free research and consulting services. Norman connected them with professionals at UALR and helped them apply for financial support from the National Science Foundation.

 

 

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