Fauxsee Innovations Gets TDP Funding to Enhance Roboglasses Device
December 2nd, 2015 by Sarah Ricard
Magnolia-based Fauxsee Innovations recently received board approval for a $28,111 Technology Development Program award through Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology. Fauxsee has been a client of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center since 2011.
In 2013, the company received Small Business Innovation Research Phase I and Phase IB awards from National Science Foundation that supported their early-stage research to prove feasibility of Roboglasses™, a navigation aid for the visually impaired intended to prevent upper body injury.
Fauxsee’s TDP project will enable the team to expand on its NSF SBIR Phase I and Phase IB research outcomes to develop Roboglasses production prototypes.These production prototype glasses will be used to proof the product design, provide extensive user interface testing with a wide array of test subjects, and support sales and marketing activities.
Roboglasses will provide users with notice of upcoming obstacles in their upper body pathways that guide dogs or walking canes cannot detect. Over 46 percent of the 11.4 million visually impaired people in America experience head injury at least once a month, and 23 percent of these injuries require medical attention.
Fauxsee Innovations envisions greater independence and fewer injuries for visually impaired individuals who navigate using Roboglasses along with guide dogs or walking canes. Brandon Foshee, CEO and president of Fauxsee Innovations, said, “Our goal is continue to make simple-to-use devices that greatly improve the quality of life of our customers.” Foshee has been completely blind for over 10 years and has first-hand experiences with the associated navigation and social challenges that affect quality of life.
The initial Roboglasses concept utilized precision ultrasonic sensors to detect and range an obstacle in a blind traveler’s path. Fauxsee Innovations uses patent-pending technology to convert these range readings into haptic (touch) effects that the user can feel on the temple of the glasses. “In Phase I, using NSF funding, we developed a crude prototype to establish feasibility of the design concept,” Foshee said. “This prototype retained most of the electronics in a large enclosure external to the glasses and connected by a number of large cables.”
Fauxsee Innovations refined the Roboglasses design during its self-funded Phase II project so that electronics fit within a cell phone-sized enclosure that could be worn as a lanyard around the user’s neck. “We are adding new capabilities to the glasses, including touch sensitive controls and a bone conduction speaker for communicating warnings to the wearer. The next version of the glasses will include Bluetooth communications capabilities and wireless battery charging,” said Foshee.
The TDP award will also support Fauxsee’s SBIR Phase III effort. “In this next research phase, we will integrate all of the electronics into the Roboglasses frames and stems. The final version of the glasses will look like a pair of sports sunglasses,” said Foshee. The company is perfecting use of 3D printing technology to lower production costs of custom Roboglasses frames.
Fauxsee Innovations received extensive support from ASBTDC’s innovation consultant Rebecca Norman with the development of its TDP application and presentation. “Rebecca let us know when we were at the appropriate stage to apply for TDP funds and then walked us through the application process. Her reviews of our project plan, application forms, and presentation for the AEDC’s Division of Science and Technology were extremely valuable,” Foshee said.
Foshee advises other innovative companies who are considering applying for AEDC commercialization funding to contact Norman for assistance. “Working with Rebecca is a real treat! Her knowledge and experience makes everything so much easier,” said Foshee.