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CyberTimez is spreading the magic of IoT to accessible technology

Longtime tech entrepreneur Sean Tibbetts noticed that wearable technology hadn't done much to update accessibility tools. So he launched three lines of products. They're now being piloted at the DC Center for Independent Living.

CyberTimez founder Sean Tibbetts at CES 2015 in Las Vegas. (Courtesy photo)

The Internet of Things promised to give us new superpowers. But that’s mostly assuming that we have a hand, good hearing and sharp eyesight.
Today, the tools available to disabled individuals are “outdated, old and clunky,” said longtime technologist Sean Tibbetts. “Shame on us for leaving accessible technology behind.”

Sean Tibbetts

Sean Tibbetts. (Courtesy photo)


So in February he pivoted his firm, launched in 1996 as a cyber cafe, to create new lines of wearable tech products. His target customers are “folks that are hearing impaired, vision impaired, physically disabled and elderly,” he said.
CyberTimez is about ready to hit the market with three flagship products:

  • Cyber Earz, an Android Wear app that vibrates and gives off visual signals when specific sounds go off, like a microwave alarm. Users can program the watch to recognize any typical household sound.
  • Cyber Eyez, which allows vision-impaired people to peer through their Google Glass or Epson Movario and have texts read out loud to them. “Look at a document or screen and say, ‘OK glass, read it to me,'” explained Tibbetts. The technology uses a combination of optical character recognition and automated picture and speech.
  • Cyber Armz helps physically impaired people get what they need around the house. Tibbetts was inspired to create this when he realized a friend of his — a veteran who came home from Afghanistan a double-amputee — couldn’t open the door to his fridge alone. Through Android Wear commands, Cyber Armz prompts a linear actuator to open the fridge door — or the cabinet or drawer. To customize this tool to most household appliances, CyberTimez built a 3D printer “from the ground up.”

The company is currently finishing up a new 12-week accelerator in Dallas sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.
And it has already cinched its first client. The DC Center for Independent Living launched a pilot program in May with all three product lines. It will run through July 27, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Tibbetts lives in Winchester, Va., while the rest of his team — five full-time employees — work remotely. The company, bootstrapped but for the $25,000 supplied by the Dallas accelerator, is now seeking seed funding.

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