One of the most inspiring aspects of Nesta's 'The Future of People Powered Health' event was hearing directly from four organisations in our Innovator Showcase sessions.
They really captured the audience's attention by sharing the challenges they had faced; proving that by pushing for their beliefs and co-producing ideas they had succeeded in driving forward a people-powered health solution. During the first innovator session, we heard from Open Voice Factory and Walk With Path.
First on the stage was Joe Reddington, Founder of Open Voice Factory, and Shaun Waters, a service user.
Shaun told us of the frustrations he had experienced with the various communication devices he had used since he was five. He explained that most had been designed with "what people thought [he] should have and not what [he] wanted".
However, he explained that in the last 18 months, he has managed to regain some of his independence by co-producing his own language pack, which fits around his needs.
Open Voice Factory has two unique offers: First, it makes access free for everyone, and second, it allows users to custom design their communications on a powerpoint, which they can then upload to the device - rather than editing on the device itself.
During the session, Joe explained that his desire to launch Open Voice Factory was founded on his desire to help people like Shaun, and also his own brother Richard - who uses a similar device - to control their voices, giving them more independence.
"My presentation at the event started with 117 seconds of silence," he said, "that silence is why I get out of bed every morning".
If you would like to find out more about how you can create your own communication aid or become a volunteer coder or tester then get in contact: [email protected]. Watch this session at the Future of People Powered Health here.
Katlyn Green, a researcher with Walk With Path, shared details of two great prototypes: Path Finder and Path Feel.
Firstly we were introduced to Path Finder, a shoe attachment that provides visual cues to help people with unsteady and irregular gait. Katlyn explained that this was particularly helpful to people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, who commonly suffer from Freezing of Gait (FoG), a symptom which causes an individual to feel frozen to the ground.
The product has been developed through iterative user-testing during several stages of development.
Since the event, Walk With Path has now successfully launched Path Finder to sell in Europe, and is reaching out to physios, neurologists, nurses, and any other health care professionals who work with Parkinson's disease patients, to help trial Path Finder in their practice.
Katlyn also talked about their second product Path Feel, which is still in development.
Path Feel is an insole that provides vibrational feedback to the soles of people at risk of falls, such as those with peripheral neuropathy, who are unable to feel the ground properly due to a sensory deficit, or those with general balance issues.
By amplifying the sense of touch, users are able to identify accurately when their feet touch the ground, thereby reducing the sense of imbalance as well as the incidence of falls.
Path Feel has been shortlisted as one of the three finalists in the EDF Pulse competition, within the ‘Smart Health’ category. Winners will be announced in September. Walk With Path is also a finalist in the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards.