8th December 2021
A Romanian start-up, .lumen has partnered with Kaufland Romania to make shopping in a supermarket easier for the visually impaired.
„There are things that are indeed a bit harder for me than for you. For example, shopping. Those big stores are a great challenge for a blind person because it’s a lot of input. There is a lot of space, a lot of people, a lot of angles, products and objects” – says Andrea, who was born blind.
There are around 40 million blind people globally, for whom going to a supermarket without a guide can be as challenging as Andrea described. .lumen, an EIT Health-supported Romanian start-up has partnered with Kaufland Romania to empower the visually impaired and help them „enjoy the experience of a large store independently”.
As Cornel Amariei, CEO & Founder of .lumen explained in a press release, despite technological advances, there is still no scalable solution for the mobility of the visually impaired. “.lumen creates assistive systems for the visually impaired, using the latest technologies in artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, and robotics. But before launching such a product publicly, we have to go through a very extensive testing stage under very complex environments, which we want to turn into accessible ones” – says Amariei, an entrepreneur, whose parents both suffered from advanced locomotive handicap, which means that they could not walk without help. This experience made him realise how disabilities impact people’s lives and awoke his curiosity.
“The partnership with .lumen came from the desire to help Delia, our colleague in the Recruitment department and blind person, to have an independent life. At the same time, we want Kaufland stores to be accessible to the visually impaired as well” – explained Estera Anghelescu, Recruiting & Employer Branding Director at Kaufland Romania, in the press release.
.lumen’s glasses fill an important gap: they behave like “virtual guide dogs” but they have the advantage of scalability and are less expensive than training the special animals. Guide dogs are considered the best option for the visually impaired but there are only 20,000 of them for 40 million people who need them. .lumen’s glasses use robotics and AI technologies to help guide their wearers: they make a map of the surrounding environment, they understand where the person is and how she or he can interact with the environment while offering haptic and auditory feedback.
Crucial support from EIT Health
The start-up – founded by Cornel Amariei, Gabriel Chindris and Mihai Ivascu – has been part of the „EIT Health experience” and received important support throughout the various programmes it has participated in.
In 2020 the Romanian start-up was one of the winners of the Grand Final of the EIT Health Headstart programme. It received €50,000, mentoring and business support. This year it was also among the winners of the EIT Health’s Healthy Longevity Catalyst Award and received support in the EIT Health Catapult.
„It makes me proud to see a start-up that has been supported by EIT Health achieve such important milestones. At our acceleration programmes we aim to provide with start-ups practical knowledge through training, mentoring and access to a world-class expert network, as well as giving them financial support and large scale awareness in the European healthcare community. Success stories like .lumen’s represent the essential meaning of our work at EIT Health – said Tamás Békási, RIS Business Creation Manager at EIT Health InnoStars.
*Photo and video from dotlumen