I’m almost blind, with eyesight of 1%. When I try writing on my smartphone using the common touchscreen, it takes forever. I’m sure you know this feeling! Also, I’m always short on time.
For example, when I get up in the morning and would like to answer some important messages or emails first thing, it could lead to me missing my train or subway to work. Naturally I’m aware of the dictation function on my smartphone and the possibility of using the braille input, but I don’t think anybody feels comfortable dictating business mails or personal messages in public. An important fact is also that not everybody can use braille.
As I considered ways to solve this problem for myself, I came up with a solution that can help many others in a similar situation: help2type, a haptic keyboard for smartphones.
Launching help2type, with help from Swisscom
I work for Swisscom, a telecommunication company in Switzerland, as head of the film team. My team consists of about 20 young and creative apprentices who work on the team for about six months each. Our crew produces over 600 corporate movies per year for internal and external business purposes.
When I was offered this position, the first thought that hit me was: “Are they crazy?” I couldn’t imagine that they wanted to fill this vacancy and entrust this visual topic to a nearly blind person. But there is more than just visuals in producing films – there’s also lots of people, storytelling and emotions involved.
Swisscom also supports Kickbox, a program for employees with new ideas. After a pitch, the company gave me the opportunity to develop Help2type. Swisscom supports me with time and needed technical knowhow. For the financial part I found two private investors to supplement my personal contribution.
How help2type works
help2type is a haptic/tactile keyboard that can be easily attached to a smartphone, iOS or Android. It connects via Bluetooth connection and the battery is rechargeable by USB C.
The product was designed to enable blind and visually impaired individuals to use their smartphones to type quickly and securely – keeping you connected to the digital world.
help2type is available for purchase now. The current version of the software is programmed based on the German language, but of course U.S. English users can work with it, too. Letters A through Z match, but in its current version, symbols require additional commands. If we can achieve an order of a minimum of 300 pieces from the U.S., we plan to produce a U.S. version.
help2type is ready for take off – will you fly with us?
About the Author
Marcel Roesch is the CEO of help2type and works as the head of the film team for Swisscom. He has a master’s degree in marketing and brand management. Marcel loves playing the electric guitar and, as a storyteller, he is interested in audiobooks like thrillers or books about knowledge. You can connect with him directly on LinkedIn.