'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.

In July, FauxSee received $150,000 as the first part of a two-phase NSF award. It will pay for the design and testing of the product for six months. Foshee said he has already started the process of applying for the second phase of the award, which would kick another $750,000 into the startup.

Hirak Patangia, a professor of electronics and computer engineering technology, will be cooperating with his students to test the prototypes at the World Services for the Blind. “The design will be a joint effort,” Patangia said. “They will probably do some startup and we’ll try to finish it at our end.”

Because the NSF award ends in December, Patangia said, he and his students will be trying to finish it within two to three months.

Meanwhile, William Jacobson, department chair of counseling, adult and rehabilitation education at UALR, will perform consulting with Fauxsee.

“My area is orientation of mobility for the blind,” he said. “I teach teachers to teach blind people how to travel using canes, dogs and electronic travel aids. With my background, I will assist in helping the researchers and inventors of the device to develop a device appropriate for the travel needs of a blind person.”

Zigler said the estimated time frame for the glasses to be available to the public is about two years.

“After phase two, there will be more to come as far as what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s actually pretty exciting. I think the best part of this for me is that we’re, obviously, not doing it for money. We have a small niche of clientele; it’s not something that everybody can buy. I certainly feel like we are going to be profitable — we’re not going to be a Fortune 500 business — but what’s exciting for me is I know how the product is going to work, and I’ve used some early prototypes. It’s going to be exciting to put these on children who maybe have never seen or experienced an object in front of them without physically touching it.”

Once the product is complete, Foshee and Zigler plan to manufacture and sell the product from FauxSee headquarters in Magnolia. How much it will cost hasn’t yet been determined. Foshee said Fauxsee will be developing more products after Roboglasses, but they go beyond a business venture for him.

“It’s so awesome for me not only to be developing this product that is going to be such a help for me, but for the millions of other people in the world that are in the same situation I am,” he said.

 

 

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