Dreamwaves: See the world through your ears

Dreamwaves is an early stage Startup based in Vienna, Austria. The company was founded in March 2019, but they had already started working on a first version of the idea about one year before.

It is a team of people passionate about sound, technology, usability and design. Complicated technology can be daunting but in Dreamwaves they know that when done right, a high-tech product can be as easy to use as Velcro. They strongly believe that an intuitive navigation app will enable blind and visually impaired people to be more independent.

 

Target group – blind and visually impaired people

Independent mobility is one of the main challenges faced by blind and visually impaired people. Outdoor navigation - especially in unknown places - is extremely difficult and sometime just impossible. This results in dependence, discomfort, high risk for accidents and social isolation. In the world there are about 250M blind and moderate to severe visually impaired who face these challenges every day. 20M of these live in Europe.

 

Current solution – Key features

The current solution is a navigation and orientation application to assist blind and visually impaired people in overcoming their mobility challenges. The key aspect of the solution is that people can understand where they need to walk to, in the most natural and intuitive way. In this application, Dreamwaves creates virtual sounds embedded in real world locations - for instance in a street corner where the user might need to turn. With headphones, the users can hear the virtual sounds as if they were real objects. They can therefore walk towards this “sound object”. Therefore, there is no need to interpret audio instructions, only to rely on the intuitive ability of finding sound location.

 

Current solution – How does it work

With this app, users simple insert a destination and a route will be calculated. Using augmented reality, Dreamwaves places the virtual waypoints along the route. With headphones, the users will always hear the location of the next waypoint and will be guided to the destination, from waypoint to waypoint. The team recommends using open earphones which nowadays can easily be bought. With these, people can hear the sound from the outside world as well as from the app, at the same time.

 

In the HiReach acceleration phase Dreamwaves has made great progress both on a technical and on a business level. On the one hand, they have added public transport routing to their initial solution which was pedestrian only. Also, they have investigated the use of machine learning to detect bus and tram doors and other features. Finally, they have conducted usability workshops to better understand user needs in terms of interface.

On the business side Dreamwaves has improved their business model, specifically they have extended the range of people that might benefit from their app in the future. These groups include elderly people and cyclers. Moreover, they also recognized that even for the general public there is added value as navigation is easier. Finally, they also significantly improved the financial planning of the startup.

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