RightHear – Blind Assistant - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

No, my background is in business and is the perfect compliment to my business partner Gil Elgrably who is the company’s CTO and built the app from scratch.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

The most challenging aspect of developing RightHear was the bootstrapping phase in its early days. We had to maintain a delicate balance between developing a sophisticated and efficient algorithm that could process vast amounts of data and managing our limited resources effectively. Moreover, the complexity of integrating various technologies such as beacons, GPS, and others, while ensuring a user-friendly and intuitive interface, added to this challenge. Operating without external capital in the early stages tested our resilience and resourcefulness, making the successful development of the app a particularly gratifying achievement.

Idan Meir is the Co-founder and CEO of RightHear, an innovative startup on a mission to turn public spaces into accessible environments for people with spatial orientation challenges, including people who are blind or visually impaired. Idan is originally from Israel but relocated with his family to Rockville, Maryland in 2021. Idan holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business from The Open University of Israel. He loves building companies, running, and eating hummus. Not necessarily in that order.

RightHear provides real-time audio descriptions to help the blind interpret and understand their surroundings. They have a free app on iOS and Android, over 2,500 accessible locations worldwide, and an ever-growing user base and community. RightHear has partnered with leading international brands like McDonalds, Microsoft, and Costa Coffee to improve accessibility compliance as well as promote inclusion.

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

There are several apps that I personally enjoy and find useful in my everyday life. Audible is a standout favorite because it provides a convenient way to continue my love for reading even while on the go. The ease of use and the extensive range of books available make it an excellent app for any book lover. Another app I admire is Lyft. Its user-friendly interface, efficient service, and commitment to enhancing the ride-hailing experience is impressive. Lastly, Headspace is an app that I regularly use for maintaining my mental well-being. Its guided meditations help keep me grounded and focused, which I find invaluable for my overall productivity and mindset.

How long have you been working on this app?

We launched RightHear in 2016 on both iOS and Android.

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

We are on a mission to turn public spaces into accessible environments for people with spatial orientation challenges, including people who are blind or visually impaired.

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

Firstly, we are the most adopted solution on the market, with over 2,500 locations globally. Our RightHear App mimics the function of a venue’s directory board, whether that’s a sign reading “Macy’s this way, restrooms that way” in a mall, or orienting a visitor inside a university’s administration building.

When users with the RightHear app on their phone approach the virtual sign, the app speaks to them about what’s nearby. For example: “The admissions office is 100 feet ahead to the right. Hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday” or “Restrooms 50 feet to the left.”

Our beacon technology removes physical barriers to access. But that’s not enough – we also want to remove financial barriers to access. This is why our app on iOS and Android is 100% free to users today, and always will be free, it is vital to us to ensure that the benefit of accessibility and independence for users should not come at a cost. Other apps may charge the users for use, but we have always been clear from the start that our app will always be free for end users.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

While we don't disclose specific details about our R&D plans, I can tell you that we are currently focusing heavily on AI and computer vision technologies. We believe these areas hold a lot of potential for improving and expanding the services we offer through RightHear. I can also share that we are very excited about the next version of our app, which is due for release at the end of the year. While I can't provide specifics, what I can say is that we are constantly looking to innovate and enhance our users' experience, and we believe our users will be thrilled with what we have in store.

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

We would love users to simply download the app on iOS and Android. It’s free to download and use, we don’t even require a sign up or login, we collect no personal information on our users. And please, share the app with everyone you know for whom it might be applicable and helpful.

But perhaps even more importantly, we want people out there, people who are are blind or visually impaired, or those who simply believe in accessibility and equality for all, to contact their local businesses and venues, and request that they make their venues accessible for all. We work with companies from local stores and restaurants, museums, hospitals, airports, all the way up to governments, global companies such as Microsoft, McDonalds and others, and our mission is to make the world more accessible to all. The more people reach out to businesses and organizations and request solutions such as ours, the better it will be for everyone.

And lastly, feedback. Our only way to keep on improving is learning from our users who provide us with feedback. You can do it through the app or directly through the email address below: [email protected]

RightHear – Blind Assistant

About App:

RightHear is a virtual accessibility assistant that helps users to easily orient themselves in new or casual environments. Our vision is to make blind, visually impaired and other people with orientation disabilities feel much more independent by assisting them going anywhere, anytime.

Below are explanations of the app's main modes and features:

Outdoor Mode:
• Current Location - Get your outdoor physical location.
• Around Me - Get outdoor nearby points of interest by turning your phone in different directions (data source is Open Street Map).
• Nearby - Lists of RighHear enabled locations and other points of interest around you.
• Record - Create your personal point of interest wherever you like and navigate there or get notify once you walk by it.
• Lens - Use object recognition tools to help you with your daily needs.
• Direction - Know the direction you are walking towards.

Indoor Mode (supported in RightHear enabled locations only):

• Current Location - Get your indoor physical location.
• Around Me - Get indoor nearby points of interest by turning your phone in different directions.
• Nearby - Lists of RighHear spots inside of the building you are at.
• Call - Get local representative assistance by phone.
• Link - A web page with additional info.
• Lens - Use object recognition tools to help you with your daily needs.
• Direction - Know the direction you are walking towards.

Demo Mode:
Simulate a RightHear location and its internal spots.

Public Transportation:
Receive a nearby list of stations, lines, and expected departures.

Categories: Tools

Date: August 22, 2023

Developer: Idan Meir

About developer: Idan Meir is the Co-founder and CEO of RightHear, an innovative startup on ... Read more

Website: https://right-hear.com/


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