Startups

Entrepreneurs push for affordable devices supporting people with disabilities

“A lot of devices for people with disabilities are very expensive — needlessly so,” according to Furenexo founder Brian Goral. “We want to keep our devices affordable.”

smart sense device from furenexo

Furenexo, PBC launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month for SoundSense in what the Brooklyn-based company hopes will be one of many devices to aid people with hearing or vision problems at a price point that makes these devices accessible.

SoundSense is designed to vibrate when there’s a loud noise, such as an alarm. It’s basically a microchip and motor contained in a 3D-printed shell. When a noise above a certain volume is detected, the motor vibrates, according to the description on Furenexo’s Kickstarter campaign. Furenexo Founder Brian Goral talked about the company’s crowdfunding drive in a phone interview.

“A lot of devices for people with disabilities are very expensive — needlessly so,” according to Goral. “We want to keep our devices affordable.”

Although improving safety for the deaf community is part of the motivation behind the device, Goral emphasized that his business also wants to improve connections between deaf people and the larger community. With its open source approach to technology, it also wants to create a closer relationship between people with disabilities and the maker community and hackers.

Sound Sense by Furenexo

SoundSense by Furenexo

The company’s Kickstarter campaign is making its Sound Sense devices available for $25 with delivery set for November this year. It also is making its technology available to other developers with the idea that the more people working on solutions to support people with disabilities, the better. Among the company’s partners are Helen Keller Services, Easter Seals and Access-4-All.

Goral’s background includes 16 years in government service including several years transitioning technology investments into usable devices, according to his bio. His family has supported people with disabilities. He is also a co-founder of hacker space NYC Resistor and Tanooki Labs.

Furenexo is also developing tools to aid people who are blind. Goral said it’s enlisting object and facial recognition tech to give them a better handle on their environment.

“We don’t consider ourselves a health tech company. We’re a public benefits company. Our emphasis is making sure products are put together well.”

He added, “We want to start a conversation on getting people to innovate these devices.”

The company’s longterm goal is to move beyond devices for the deaf and blind communities and provide useful devices for people with attention deficit, post traumatic stress and autism spectrum disorders.

Photo: Furenexo