Life-changing services brought to life by the mobile phone
Imagine the frustration of being blind and needing to view something as basic as allergen information on a food label, or select the correct can from the pantry. Little things like this that the sighted don’t give a second thought to can add a lot of hassle to the day of a blind person.
Sometimes all you need to do to find assistance is let someone know you need it. That’s exactly the principle behind Be My Eyes, the app that connects sighted people who can lend their eyes to the blind in times of need.
With just a tap, the blind can ask sighted volunteers via the app to eliminate the complication.
The sighted person simply takes a look using live video chat, describes what it is they see to the non-seeing person, and then both move on with their day effortlessly.
"To describe it in a very simple way, we're like Airbnb or Uber, in the sense that we provide a life-improving service through simply providing a connection," says inventor Hans Jørgen Wiberg.
The app is available for iOS and Andriod in 180 languages across 150 countries. To date, there are more than 2 million volunteers and 120,000 blind and low-vision users.
Every year, millions of refugees and displaced people lose touch with their families when making the perilous journey to safer shores. Many arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their back, let alone any means to find their lost loved ones.
REFUNITE, established in 2008, was formed after discovering the critical lack of an IT infrastructure between NGOs, hampering their ability to share information on families separated across borders.
Opposed to the family tracing programmes, which are based on paper questionnaires, REFUNITE is a global platform that easily and quickly enables communication and the sharing of information between users, agencies and countries.
Available online and on all mobiles, users can search for a missing person using SMS, USSD, web or a free helpline – so no smartphone or even an internet connection is needed, to register, search or message through the platform.
By providing information such as name, gender, age, country of origin etc., users can create a profile of the missing person they are trying to locate. Once the profile is set up, REFUNITE will send users notifications any time they have new information, questions or possible leads.
This solution is particularly critical, as a very large number of refugees can’t register with formal institutions as they haven't been granted asylum, are stateless or plainly fear to register.
REFUNITE now has over 1 million registered users and has reconnected over 40,000 families, some of whom were separated from their loved ones for more than 20 years!
Many of us avoid having our moles checked often with the justification of: "it won’t happen to me". However, skin cancer is the most common type of cancers and even a tiny spot can be life-threatening.
Regularly checking your moles or lesions is essential for early detection of melanoma. But, it can be difficult to know what you should look for.
SkinVision is a clinically proven service that can be used to analyse and monitor your moles. All you have to do is download the app, available on iOS, and upload images of any moles.
An algorithm then analyses the mole and provides a risk classification: identifying if a mole appears benign or suspicious.
All photos are then also quality-checked by dermatologists and image recognition experts. If they see something that needs your attention, they’ll reach out with advice on any next steps you should take.
To date, SkinVision has assessed more than 3,000,000 skin pictures and detected more than 27,000 cancerous skin lesions.
Around 5% of the world population suffers from disabling hearing loss. Some get by with hearing aids or reading lips but there are certain situations where a conversation is difficult. Simple dinner table chatter, for example, can be impossible to stay on top of as everyone tends to speak at once.
Ava helps the deaf and hard-of-hearing people stay in the loop by tracking and transcribing conversation, making it easy to follow any discussion.
Each participant in a conversation simply downloads the app and sets up a profile. Everyone then just talks normally with their phones close by. As people talk, the app picks up the conversation, via each person’s phone microphone, and transcribes it into a clearly threaded message.
The potential for the app extends well beyond dinner table conversations and fits into almost any environment where multiple people are chatting.
Now available for download and purchase, this simple solution makes these conversations much more effortless, removing the social barriers that many face on a daily basis.
With access to prompt diagnosis and care, almost 80% of blindness and visual impairment cases could be avoided. However, transporting diagnostic equipment to remote areas, where it's needed most, is still a major hurdle.
The Peek Retina adapter enables practitioners to perform exams anywhere in the world, without expensive equipment or complex instructions. All that's needed is a smartphone camera, which, when held to the eye in combination with the adapter, shows a high-quality image of the retina.
Used in combination with the Peek app, the image can then be examined for irregularities including cataracts, signs of glaucoma or nerve disease, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Once an exam is complete, the patient information is securely stored and shared with off-site professionals for review. If needed, the patient can then be referred to receive treatment.
While smartphones seem like a luxury, many households prioritise owning one over other household essentials. According to the World Bank, "the poorest households are more likely to have access to mobile phones than to toilets or clean water".
Peek Retina is much easier to use than traditional ophthalmoscopes making it suitable for a wider group of healthcare workers, particularly those in regional and remote areas.
Gender equality is a battle that the world has fought for centuries. While some nations have developed in leaps and bounds when it comes to women’s rights, there are still millions of women and girls who have no voice and lack even the most basic human rights.
Aiming to inform and empower, the Half The Sky game allows players to walk in the shoes of women from all around the world. We meet women from Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Vietnam and The United States and face a number of challenges including poverty, healthcare, oppression and much more.
Designed to give gamers real insight into their lives and daily struggles, players begin in India living life as a young woman – caring for her family, carrying out chores and working to earn a living. Along the way, she faces a number of challenges including decisions about vaccination and finding her way to financial independence.
With every gaming quest completed, players are given the opportunity to donate real goods and services. These include medical resources and life-saving surgeries donated by Johnson and Johnson, and books and other learning materials donated by the Pearson Foundation.
In addition, all the funds put into the game are donated to charity with 80% directed to the game’s nonprofit partners based on players’ selections, and the remaining revenue is directed to Games for Change and the Tides Foundation to manage, host and sustain the game.
Driven by the concept that information is power, the game allows youth to understand the challenges women face every day. And just by playing the game, everyone can do their own small part towards making a global change.
So far the game has 1.3 million players, which has led to 250,000 books donated, US $204,900 in surgeries donated, and a total of US $502,500 generated in overall donations.
Be My Eyes, Refunite, SkinVision, AVA, Peek Retina, Rolex/Joan Bardeletti, Adriane Ohanesian, Sightsavers, CCBRT, Dieter Telemans, Half the Sky and INDEX: Design to Improve Life®