Chivas Venture 2018 - Italy: Talking Hands by LiMix. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Chivas Venture 2018 – Italy: Talking Hands by LiMix. All photos: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Technology – Abraham Lincoln once said that “the best way to to predict the future is to create it”. According to this motto, the Chivas Venture‘s annual contest aims to support visionary entrepreneurs who want to make a real change in people’s lives by tackling today’s issues. For the 2018 edition, 27 start ups from different countries across the globe have been selected to pitch for a share of a $1million fund. The winner will be announced on May 24 at the influential innovation festival The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam. In the meantime, you can vote on line for your favourite one HERE. The most voted innovations will share 200.000 $ of the jackpot.

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Chivas Venture 2018 - Argentina: OTTAA. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Among the main issues tackled this year, disability was one the most represented ones. On a side, technology can create a social divide and leave behind those who have more difficulty to access, deal with or understand a world getting more complex everyday… On the other side, at Chivas Venture 2018, 7 start ups aimed to provide the right solutions to fill such gaps and ease the everyday routines of those who need and deserve to keep up.

Argentina – OTTAA paints a bigger picture for the speech impaired

Chivas Venture 2018 - Argentina: OTTAA. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

OTTAA Project’s mobile software enables people with speech impairments to communicate by using pictograms to quickly put sentences together. The technology gathers the user’s data and learns the most suitable images to project onto their device within the context of their conversation. “Currently our solution is already creating more than 370,000 sentences, improving the lives of over 2,500 people in South America”. Explains Carlos Guillermo Costa at OTTAA.

Belgium – Adaptive Eyework changes how the world sees

Chivas Venture 2018 - Belgium: Adaptive EyeWorks. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Adaptive Eyeworks has developed adjustable optics that pave the way for affordable and accessible solutions for the 2.5 billion people around the world with no access to eyewear – 90% of them live developing countries. Their FocusSpec glasses allow users to adjust the lens strength by simply turning a dial on the side. “Our patented technology is the most cost-effective way of treating poor eyesight in the developing world today.” Explains Koen Van Pottelbergh at Adaptive Eyeworks. “By providing glasses to these communities, we’re helping to improve attendance in schools, education, income and road safety.”

China – Lion Di makes the internet accessible for all

Chivas Venture 2018 - China: Lion Di. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

We often take it for granted that we can chat to our friends, shop, work, read the news and enjoy the convenience and opportunities that the internet brings every day. Lian Di designs technological solutions to make the internet more accessible to the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the elderly and those with dyslexia. “To fully understand the needs of our users, we employed an engineering team made up of physically impaired people to give us invaluable insight into the issues that they face”. Explains Xinyun Mo at Lian Di. “So far, we have already created 37 solutions for popular webpages and apps in China such as WeChat and Alibaba.”

Greece – Tobea’s SeaTrack makes waves for those with mobility issues

Chivas Venture 2018 - Greece: Tobea’s SeaTrack. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Going for a swim is often a struggle for those with mobility issues. TOBEA’S SEATRAC is a specially shaped chair which moves across two fixed rails accompanying its occupant from the shoreline to the sea with ease. SEATRAC gives wheelchair users the freedom to go for a swim safely, without the help of others. It is also environmentally-friendly, using solar energy as a source of power. “In 2017, our device was used 13.000 times in 61 beaches in Greece, Italy and Cyprus.” Says Ignatios Fotiou at Tobea’s SeaTrack.

Hungary: GloveEve: writing a new chapter for the blind and partially sighted

Chivas Venture 2018 - Italy: Hungary: GloveEve. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Only 1% of publications are translated in Braille for visually impaired people. GlovEye is a portable glove which translates printed text into Braille, enabling the visually impaired to read any book. The product aims to help those with disabilities to break down barriers by providing them with wider education opportunities. “Our product has been designed to be affordable, because cost shouldn’t be a barrier for those who want to read.” Explains Zsofia Tillinger at GlovEye.

Italy. LiMix: Talking hands make the deaf be heard

Chivas Venture 2018 - Italy: Talking Hands by LiMix. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Today there are over 70 million deaf people worldwide. Yet most of the world’s population doesn’t understand sign language. LiMix has created Talking Hands, a device which users wear on their hand like a glove and can translate sign language into voice. The glove detects hand movements when the user signs and converts the movements into spoken words using a voice synthesizer on their smartphone. “Our technology will bring deaf people out of the silence by enabling them to be understood by anyone.” Explains Francesco Pezzuoli at LiMix. “By lifting this language barrier, we can unlock new opportunities and improve their standard of living.”

Poland. Neuro Device unlocks minds with the freedom of speech

Chivas Venture 2018 - Poland: Neuro Device. Photo: courtesy of Chivas Regal.

Neuro Device is developing a system which speeds up the rehabilitation time for those suffering with aphasia, a condition affecting people of all ages usually caused by a stroke, head injury or conditions such as dementia diseases. “Through stimulating the speech area of the brain, we found that they could triple the chances of full recovery,” explains Pawel Soluch at Neuro Device. “Our device is designed to be affordable and accessible to many, and to be used in both professional and home therapy.”