One of the major challenges facing the hearing impaired population in Israel during the war with Hamas is how to deal with responding to air-raid sirens while they are sleeping. Shani Bibi, the founder of CODA, a startup that utilizes AI to convert the spoken word into sign language and the daughter of two deaf parents, spent the first month of the war sleeping in here parents apartment to enable her to wake them up when the sirens went off, as they wouldn’t hear it.
Realizing that there had to be a better way, she searched and found an ingenious solution, a smartwatch that connects with the various rocket siren apps including Israel’s Home Front Command app, and that vibrates when an alert in their area goes off enabling them to wake up and get to shelter in the 90 seconds they have before the potential rocket hits. She tested 20 makes and models until she found one that easily connected with the various apps and enabled the user to set the length and strength of the vibration.
Shani has already distributed more than 300 watches to the deaf community in Tel Aviv together with the Tel Aviv municipality. It is her belief that the government is responsible to ensure the safety of all its citizens during a rocket attack, including the deaf. As the situation in the North begins to heat up, the need could potentially become more acute for everyone. Given that there are around 800,00 hearing impaired people in Israel with around 50,000 deaf or deaf & blind, the need for a simple solution is great.
Currently working on raising 80,000 Shekels (around $20,000) to purchase 400 watches for people in Holon, Shani hopes to expand the project to two other cities, Givat Shmuel near Tel Aviv and Kiryat Ekron, south of Rehovot as well.
Shani’s efforts remind us that being a start-up nation is not only about creating new technology to help people, but using our brains to figure out how to adapt existing tech to help as well.