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REPORT

assistive tech

THE REAL LIFE HACKERS
THE STARTUPS TAKING TECH TO THE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT MOST

MiMi
MiMi is a Berlin-based startup that
offers smartphone-based hearing
tests and hearing amplification for
people with hearing loss.

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What’s next for Mimi?
There is a stigma around hearing loss
where many people are afraid to even
talk about it. We’re trying to fight that
with educational campaigns, such as
the one we’re going to launch in the
summer – hearing1million – which
aims to test the hearing of 1 million
people worldwide.
Tech-wise we’ll continue improving
our apps to ease the worry of people
with hearing loss, and help them
through their daily life. We’re also
working on hardware.

How many people are using
Mimi today and what are your
growth plans?
From the 360 million people
worldwide that suffer from hearing
problems, only 15 million are
currently served by existing tech.
Within the next five years, we are
aiming to double this number. We
have reached 80,000 downloads
across our apps with organic traffic.
We’re just getting started now with
active marketing campaigns.

See What I Mean

Are you excited about
the assistive tech space?
What I find exciting is that while
traditional medical research,
genetics and pharmaceutics are trying
to find a cure, startups are building
solutions using existing technologies
and making the life of many easier
now. And we are succeeding.

See What I Mean (SWiM) is an app
that instantly translates words into
pictures, found to be effective at
stimulating memories, and improving
communication, mood and levels of
engagement amongst people with
dementia. It was originally created
by Ilyanna Kerr in the final year
of her design degree at Goldsmiths
University.

Philipp Skribanowitz is a
co-founder and CEO of MiMi

What’s the need you’re
addressing?
For people living with dementia,
words can become increasingly hard to
understand, making communication
and social interaction difficult.
Images, on the other hand, can retain
their meaning long after the sense of
a word has been lost. With the SWiM
app, conversation is not limited to the
hard copy images you have to hand
and it’s not slowed down by searching
for images on the internet. The ease
of use and instant translation of word
to image encourages a natural flow to
SUMMER 2015 • techcitynews.com

conversation. Images can be saved and
personal images uploaded, creating a
familiar and meaningful collection.

How many people are using See
What I Mean today and what are
your growth plans?
Our main customer is Jewish Care,
a health and social care organisation
that cares for over 7000 people in the
UK. We worked with them to develop
the app and we are now working to
scale its use to more of their centres
and to other care providers. We are
currently working on a version of the
app for family members and carers
of people living with dementia to use
at home called SWiM Personal which
will be available first on iOS for iPad.
Are you excited about
the assistive tech space?
Even though we are excited about the
huge potential assistive tech has to
impact people’s lives we are concerned
about the current barriers that mean
these innovations are not reaching the
people that really need them. This is a
complex issue that requires the entire
health and social care system, both
private and public, to ensure people

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assistive tech

can benefit from these innovations.
There’s no point in continuing to
throw money at innovations in this
space if they can’t benefit the people
they were intended for.
Ilyanna Kerr is a co-founder of
See What I Mean

Sentimoto
Sentimoto was founded in December
2013 by a team of four Oxford
biomedical engineers to develop
new wearable lifestyle management
technologies for older people’s
care. The team is currently preparing
a mobile and wearable app for a
public release.
What’s the need you’re
addressing?
By tracking lifestyle information and
beginning to quantify care, problems
can be spotted earlier and care can be
delivered when it is needed. This not

only benefits the care recipients by
encouraging healthy behaviours and
directly preventing adverse incidents
and disease, but also helps reduce
respite admissions for carers and
helps care service providers improve
and validate their practices.
Are you excited about
the assistive tech space?
It is huge. We are facing a revolution
now, with rapidly increasing
numbers of older people using mobile
technologies, and the ‘quantified

self-approach’ is finally finding a
meaningful application in caring for
others.
What’s next for Sentimoto?
We are in stealth mode at the
moment, validating our solution with
users with the support of Nominet
Trust and Wayra UnLtd, and
preparing for a public release later
this year.
We are working with third party
wearable devices, so supporting as
many as possible is essential, to give
our users a complete freedom of
choice.
Maxim Osipov is a co-founder of
Sentimoto

year and we have another five joining
next month.
We are prototyping the service and
products for the next 12 to 18 months
before we open our first clinic in
2016. We will have our first hospital
trial within nine months and our first
health service contract within the next
two years. Our goal is to be able to
reach every single person globally that
needs a custom orthotic within one
week of their need.

Andiamo
Andiamo combines 3D scanning,
3D printing and predictive analytics
to build custom orthotics like back
braces and ankle foot orthoses,
reducing waiting times from six
months to 48 hours.
What’s the need you’re
addressing?
There are two core problems. The first
is that our capacity to produce custom
orthotics is declining globally. There
are only 400 qualified orthotists left in
the UK seeing 2 million NHS patients.
Worldwide there are approximately
100 million people that need an
orthotic per year, yet only a fraction
get them.
Secondly, the evidence about
what does and doesn’t work isn’t
recorded because everything is hand
measured and hand made. As we use
3D scanning and are a fully digital
service, we’re able to track exactly
how a condition is progressing and if
their orthotic is working. We’ll have
the first ever data set that shows how
children grow and how their condition
changes over time.
How many people are using
Andiamo and what are your
growth plans?
Our first three families started this

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Are you excited about the
assistive tech space?
Extremely. We’ve been talking about
mass customisation for a while
now but the truth is that the actual
improvement for a large chunk of the
population is minimal.
Long-term conditions and
disabilities, however, tend to manifest
in very specific ways that mean mass
customisation is absolutely critical to
quality of life.
Looking at the most recent WHO
figures, about 10% of the world’s
population already needs assistive
tech and that is only going to increase.
It is imperative to improve this area,
bring down cost, increase access, and
build the infrastructure for true mass
customisation.
The key thing?
Empathy. Customisation without an
infrastructure of empathy is at best
short-term bling.
Naveed Parvez is a co-founder
and CEO of Andiamo
SUMMER 2015 • techcitynews.com