Sesame provides touch-free smartphone control for people with disabilities

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Sesame aims to provide smartphone access to users with disabilities that prevent them from using their hands

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Sesame is a system designed specifically for users with only limited or no use of their hands. The device pairs head tracking software with some familiar hardware with the goal of bringing smartphone functionality to those who would otherwise be unable to make use of it.

The Sesame phone is actually a software-modified version of the Google Nexus 5 smartphone released last year.

Sesame is about providing wider access to a vast range of functionality that’s become central to modern life. The team envisages it being well suited to those with a wide range of conditions including Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis.

The device comes pre-loaded with software that allows for touch-free functionality right out of the box. It uses a mixture of voice and gesture recognition for control, has been designed with accessibility in mind, and is even simple enough for children to use.

The Nexus 5 is switched on by saying "Open Sesame," at which point it immediately begins tracking head movements, which control an on-screen cursor used to navigate the Android OS. It utilizes the smartphone’s existing 1.3 MP front-facing camera for tracking, and can even be used by people who can only slightly move their head.

The software layer is designed to give users access to the entire Google Play app library, providing touch-free access to not only basic voice call and messaging functions, but also more complex activities like posting to social networks and even playing games.

The Sesame-enabled device has been successfully used by 10 beta testers, with the company claiming that a large number of requests for the handset have already been received. The project is currently in the final working prototype stage, with the team making final adjustments to the software, and is seeking funding on Indiegogo. Early bird prices for the device come in at US$700 ($350 now and the rest later), with the price rising to $900 thereafter.

The crowdfunding effort is scheduled to end on December 11, and if all goes to plan shipping is estimated to start in March 2015. For every $5,000 raised, the team will donate a Sesame phone to someone in need.

For more on the Sesame Phone, check out the Indiegogo pitch below.

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