ATU279 – Octopus Watch

first_imgShare this…TwitterFacebookPinterest1LinkedInEmailPrint RelatedATU182 – Roger Voice, KNFB Reader, RESNA’s new Singapore Conference, Legislative Update From Audrey Busch, Drive About Number Neighborhood AppNovember 21, 2014In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU228 – iOS 9 and Its Impact on People with Disabilities | Luis Perez | Free AT Webinars, Insulin and Blood Sugar Monitoring on Your Smart Phone, Robots and AutismOctober 9, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU188 – Wheel Life & The Bally Foundation, Look at Me app for Autism, Applevis’ Golden Apple Awards, Birdhouse for AutismJanuary 2, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update” Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadYour weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Show notes:Octopus Watch | Sam Hickman CEO of Joy | www.heyjoy.ioYouTube Videos from the INDATA Project – Assistive Technology Daily – from the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program updates its app to aid hearing-impaired drivers Teams with Tobii Dynavox to Humanize the Voice within Assistive Communication Devices | Business Wire DayCape——————————If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email [email protected] out our web site: https://www.eastersealstech.comFollow us on Twitter: @INDATAprojectLike us on Facebook:——-transcript follows ——SAM HICKMAN: Hi, I’m Sam Hickman, CEO of Joy, and this is your Assistance Technology Update.WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Welcome to episode 279 of assistive technology update. It’s scheduled to be released on September 30, 2016.Today I get to interview Sam Hickman of Joy. They create a product called Octopus Watch that does some pretty interesting things for kids in terms of reminding and scheduling.Also we have some information from Uber and how they have updated their app to make it easier for drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing; and a new kind of augmentative communication that synthesizes voice called vocal ID that is a new partner with tobii DynaVox; we also have an app from our friends over at BridgingApps.We hope you’ll check out our website at, give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, or drop us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project.Do you watch YouTube? Did you know that every Monday we put out a new YouTube video about assistive technology? You can find that at Go check out our videos.If you are listening to this show, I’m guessing you care about the news of assistive technology. A resource we learned about recently is the assistive technology daily, a daily blog created by our friends over at the North Carolina assistive technology program. They do new stories kind of like we do every day on assistive technology. You’ve got to check them out. Recent stories include shot box, iOS 10’s hold it point or momentary switch mode, blindfold racer championships, and a watch that tracks tremors for folks who have Parkinson’s. The website is, but I’ll pop a link in the show notes you can find a blog and make sure you stay informed about assistive technology.Not long ago, we did a story about how Uber is offering free rides to blind jobseekers in Colorado. We also have a story now about how Uber has opted its app to make it easier for folks who are deaf or hard of hearing to be Uber drivers. With their September 26 update of the app, they did a couple of things to make it easier. The first thing is they made the screen flash to alert to let the hearing impaired driver or passengers know that the right is around the corner or almost going to be there. The other thing it does is, for the passenger it will bring up a screen that says, and I’m quoting from a picture on the website, “Thank you for entering your destination. Your driver is deaf or hard of hearing, will provide turn by turn directions when ‘Roland’ arrives.” And that’s the name of the driver in this situation. If you are a passenger on Uber and you happen to be signed a driver who is deaf, the phone communication option will be turned off and text messaging will be set up as the default way of communicating which is usually how folks do it anyway. The article also mentions that right now Uber seems to have around 20 or so drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing, and they’re hoping this will allow more folks to take advantage of the Uber service. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to stuff magazine where you can read more and see a video about how this new app update makes Uber a little more accessible to folks who are deaf or hard of hearing, especially those who want to try to make a little extra money. Check our show notes.I recently received a press release from tobii DynaVox about a new product called vocal ID. It’s designed to create more natural human sounding voices for individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication or otherwise use voice output to represent their spoken word. It was the thing that was founded by Doctor Rupert Patel in 2014. Basically what it does is it takes voices from voice bank – and we talked about boys bank on our show before where people who have voice and are going to lose it due to ALS or something similar read words into a recorder and then have those voices sound later to retreat human voices. Or it also does a thing called bespoke where it takes a little bit of the vocalizations of someone who has speech difficulties and matches those up with other boys bank donors and create a unique speech pattern for an individual. There is a really great video on the website, and I’ll pop a link in the show notes you can watch it, of a little girl who has some speech difficulties but does vocalize in some ways. They took her sister’s voice, and this little girl who uses augmentative medication, and created a unique combined voice that’s a little bit synthesized, a little bit part of the all common user, and a little bit part of her sister to give her something that is very unique. It’s a very heartwarming, well done video as well. On the website it talks about pricing and of the availability and how you can take these voice files that are either created for you or pulled from the human voice bank and put on your tobii DynaVox Windows augmentative comedic Asian device. There’s also a whole bunch of FAQ and other kind of information. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes and let you explore that on your own. It’s a pretty cool technology and a pretty cool concept. Be sure to check our show notes.Each week one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.AMY BARRY: This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning. Today’s app is called DayCape: daily visual planning. DayCape is an app that allows therapists, teachers, parents, and even children themselves to set up visual schedules. The app is an excellent way to help users with a variety of disabilities to manage their day. DayCape simply displays with images and a visual time what tasks need to be done during the day. It also enables a web tool for supporters to the child such as parents, teachers, and mentors, to plan and send tasks directly to the child app. This can be used to plan the day for whole families or just for school classes. The app was specially created for supporting children with diagnoses such as autism and other diagnoses, but it’s also great support for all children with their daily life, and it can even benefit adults with the need for extra personal assistant. DayCape is based on research, interviews, and user testings with families with autistic children, schools that provide special care, and other support organizations for autistic children. The awesome app features included in DayCape are being able to choose images from your own phone or the DayCape library; notification reminders; visual colored time tracking; written messages for each activity; a web planning tool for parents, teachers and mentors; mobile adaptive web planning tool; the ability to plan for multiple children with this app; and image uploading; and also a really great feature is the secure connection for the child without unnecessary logins.BridgingApps highly recommends this app. DayCape is available for free at the iTunes Store and is compatible with iOS devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit WINGLER: I think a lot of people in my audience know that I have some little kids in my house. In fact, my son just turned five and I have a three-year-old who is soon to be for. They are homeschooled, so these are kids who have a little less structured than they might if they were in a kindergarten and preschool program. They have a morning routine, but I know sometimes it wanders a little bit. Sometimes it’s hard to keep my kiddos focus on what they need to be doing at that moment. Today we are going to explore a product called Octopus Watch that might just help my kids. I was thinking about it and realize this might also have some pretty strong implications for people who have disabilities and have trouble remembering their daily routines. I’m so excited to have Sam Hickman who has the best title in the world I think. He’s the CEO of Joy. Joy is the name of the company that creates Octopus Watch. We’ve got him online today. Sam, welcome to the show.SAM HICKMAN: Thank you for having me.WADE WINGLER: I’m excited to talk about Octopus Watch because I think it might help my kids. But I really do think it might be useful for folks who have certain kinds of disabilities. But before we jump into the watch and those kinds of things, I like to know a little bit about you. Can you tell me about your background and where did this idea come from?SAM HICKMAN: Sure. As you can tell, I’m French. Pardon my accent. I moved to the US six years ago after being at a previous company in France. Here in San Francisco, the Bay Area, I discovered a lot of opportunity and possibility in terms of technology. Since the technology now is so cheap and mainstream and everybody has a smartphone in their pockets, my wife and I thought of doing some products to help the families better live in harmony. We want to have families live in harmony thanks to technology. That’s the mission statement of our company, of Joy. Then if we speak more about Octopus Watch, actually the idea came from personal experience. I have two kids, a son who is not 12, and I’m really proud of him. I really have to admit that when he was younger, we had a hard time teaching him good habits because sometimes he didn’t want to cooperate, he didn’t want to sit at the table, he didn’t want to help us. Depending on the day, either we were stressed and struggled, or we were exhausted and would give up. Sometimes he would seem to forget to brush his teeth or feet his fish. We had to remind him, repeat 10 times the same things over and over again. It was really exhausting. So with our daughter Emy, she’s now four, we decided to be more prepared. We read a lot of books; we spoke with other parents. Actually we discovered the power of routines. If you have kids – and you do — you know that having daily routines in the family really help the kids to be more organized, focused, independent, and it prevents the power struggles. So we tested a lot of productivity on the market from daily routine charts to programmable watches, even apps on smartphones and tablets, but none of these give us entire satisfaction. We arrived to the conclusion that we needed to empower our kids with something that is wearable, visual, and I can grow with them. That’s what we tried to achieve with Octopus Watch.WADE WINGLER: I can totally attest to the power of routine and consistency. That’s something that, because make it struggle with, sometimes I struggle with it too. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. I’m excited to learn about this product that might help. Talk to me a little bit about Octopus Watch. How does it work?SAM HICKMAN: Octopus Watch is the first icon-based watch that teaches kids good habits and the concept of time. One, it’s a watch. It gives the time but shaded with icons, making it the first clock that young kids can read and understand. Two, it’s a scheduler. Parents program reminders directly on their smart phones. It sequences over Bluetooth. Everything is stored on the watch. There is a flash memory. It triggers reminders, plus it vibrates. It’s a vibration plus icons. Really, with that we want to foster independence, initiating self-esteem. Three, we like to say it assist the parents. It helps them prioritize their expectation and stay consistent with daily routines. That’s basically it, really straightforward. There is an optional “gamification” feature, but we didn’t want to have an additional layer of distractions. There is no videogame on this watch. There is no messaging system. It’s really an educational tool, but it’s still fun for the kids.WADE WINGLER: And the concept sounds brilliant, in fact. I love the idea that it’s focused and limited to just the thing it’s supposed to do as opposed to the Apple Watch that I look at all my wrist right now that really can do anything and everything, and sometimes it is a little bit too much. I understand that, especially in the context we are talking about. Talk to me a little bit about the interface. What does it look like for the child? What is the experience like in terms of their interface?SAM HICKMAN: Again, it’s really straightforward because we target the kids aging from 3 to 7 and eight years old. These kids are not supposed to know how to read, so we display the time as shaded with an icon, and that’s it. Every time the kids throughout the day want to know what time it is, he just looks at his watch. Let’s say it’s 1215. He will have an icon with a fork and a knife. It’s really simple. But it grows with the kid, meaning that once he knows how to read the time, and it can display a different clock face. We offer different clock faces like digital and analog. Then in terms of interface for the reminder: it’s as easy basically. The only difference is – for instance, it’s 715. It’s time to go to brush teeth. The watch vibrates and displays a toothbrush. The kid is invited to brush his teeth, and then once it’s done there is only one button on the watch. He presses the button and gets an image of good job. In the meantime, that synchronizes with the smartphone so that the parents contract the tasks. They can have a nice graph, etc. Again, really simple to use on the kids with wrists.WADE WINGLER: From the parents side, I know it’s a smartphone interface and you say they communicate via Bluetooth. What is the configuration? Is icon-based, textbased, drag-and-drop? How does it work from the parents perspective?SAM HICKMAN: In my background, I did a lot of apps. I know it’s important to have a good user interface and user experience. Again, simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. Basically when you open this app, you see updates. During the day you can create a reminder for your kids. You just have a big plus button, tap on it, then you enter the name of the task. There is a completion feature. For instance, prepare your backpack. You would answer back, it would propose everything that contains the string. Then you get to choose the icon. Tap on the icon and then you have to choose some attributes, optional attributes. For instance, is this task recurrent? Do you want this task to make the watch vibrates? Etc. That’s it. And that’s it, really simple. Then as the watch is close to your smartphone, it organizes over Bluetooth. For some reason, we decided to allow parents to disconnect the watch and synchronize it manually because some parents are really concerned about radio frequencies, for instance. It’s automatic or parents can decide to disorganize the watch in the morning and evening, and that’s it. That’s also why there is memory on the watch, because we want this watch to be totally autonomous as opposed to an Apple Watch for instance. The Apple Watch needs to be with the phone to work properly. With Octopus Watch, that’s not the case. We are simply using the smart phone to CIGNA data and that’s it.WADE WINGLER: That makes sense. I love the brilliance in that design. As I’m envisioning this process, I’m thinking about the icons. How big is the icon database? Can you add your own if you need to?SAM HICKMAN: As of today we have 500 icons. The beauty of the new technology and the smart objects is we can push updates. Once the product is shipped in March 2017, we can simply update the database of icons. As of today, parents can’t create their own icon , that’s the future we are working on. For instance, we had a lot of feedback. Parents said just let us take a picture with our smartphone and transformed into an icon. We are typically working on this valuable feature.WADE WINGLER: Excellent. I’m thinking about my little kids wearing this watch and it makes me envision what it might look like and some questions like, tell me about the battery life and the ruggedness and what kinds of colors are available.SAM HICKMAN: In terms of colors, five colors. Blue, pink, green, red, and gray. Gray is more for the grown-up teenager or kids, eight or nine. In terms of battery life, as you probably know, if you own a smartphone it’s a struggle. We had to balance the fact that we need a watch that is really small and tiny copper in the meantime we battery life that is sufficient. As of today it goes up to six hours, but actually really what we want is that every night the kids would plug in the watch to charge the battery. It’s like a good habit to take. For that we have an additional accessory that we call the companion that is actually a charging station that transforms into a nightlight. It’s a win-win situation for the kids. They plug in the watch every night and in exchange they have a nightlight.WADE WINGLER: That’s cool. As I’m thinking about this, I’m thinking primarily about kids, and we talked primarily about kids. My original thought behind asking for an interview was that I think maybe older kids or even adults with some kinds of disabilities might benefit from this product, people who have a hard time remembering their routine. Was that part of your design idea? tell me about the impact on people with disabilities that you envision with this.SAM HICKMAN: That’s a great remark. Our story, actually we have been selected by a hardware accelerator called Axe. They said okay, we love your concept. That you have two deliver this concept, you have to produce this concept. They sent us four months into China to create prototypes and test prototypes. During this period, I went back and forth between Europe and the United States. We were going to test prototypes with families and schools. The very good surprise was awesome feedback from the community and especially from parents with kids with special needs, kids on the autism spectrum, kids with ADHD, etc. Honestly it boosted us even more because now we know we have a product that can really change and improve the lives of millions of families and kids. Yes, absolutely we are working on developing specific features instead of icons for different use cases. Like you said, this watch was targeting kids between three and eight years old, but actually we discovered that there is a need even for teenagers and for adults because they love the simple city of this watch, they love the cost, and it’s really easy to use.WADE WINGLER: That’s a great segue into my next question. Talk to me about cost and availability. I can’t buy this from a kid just yet, right?SAM HICKMAN: What we did is a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for us it was a good opportunity to test the people would be interested in this product. Apparently they are so that’s good. We proved traction. In the meantime we can test some price points. It’s a balance between having an interesting price for the customer that is not too expensive but in the meantime we need to cover our costs. We believe that the right price is $69. It’s way cheaper than any smart watch on the market. I forgot to say that you have a watch that is waterproof, that is robust, that is small, and your kid will love it. We believe that $69 is fair.WADE WINGLER: You know what? I agree. I think I could probably do a couple of those when it’s available. When do we think it might be available?SAM HICKMAN: We are targeting March 2017. People can preorder now, on our website They can preorder right now and will be shipping beginning of March 2017.WADE WINGLER: Excellent. We talked a little bit about creating your own icons and some of the features. Are there other things that are in your crystal ball, I think you anticipate doing with Octopus Watch or similar technology?SAM HICKMAN: Yes. We started working with some ADA specialist and child specialist in general. We want to offer the ability to download packs of daily routine templates based on gender, age, disability kids may have, really to help the parents do the right thing. Nobody told us – it’s hard to have kids, and you know that. If you can have some additional help, why not?WADE WINGLER: Absolutely. Before we wrap up the interview, make sure our audience knows about the contact information and I to reach out again. Give us the website again.SAM HICKMAN: The website is WINGLER: I’ll pop a link in the show notes as well. SAM Hickman is the CEO of Joy and has been with us today talking about this thing that fascinates me and I think is interesting, Octopus Watch. Thank you so much for being with us today.SAM HICKMAN: Thank you, Wade , for having me. It was great.WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi. For requests and inquiries, contact [email protected]***last_img read more