Can you see the potential in this unreasonable idea?

Photo by Formha.

At the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, Colorado, every one of the 22 brilliant social entrepreneurs is looking for money to start a business venture. But one young man from Brazil is looking for money to help people who can’t see to identify their own money.

Auire in action

Fernando Gil and Nathalia Patricio, two young computer engineers from Sao Paolo, have turned a college service project into a promising device for the visually-impaired. A small, handheld device, Auire (meaning “Hello” in a Brazilian tribal language) is a color-identifier system that scans, processes, and then voice-prompts the user as to the denomination of the bill or the color of the object. In short, it’s a money reader for those who can’t see.

The Brazilian Reais

In countries like Brazil (and all of Europe), bill denominations are differentiated by color. So when the 2.7 million visually-impaired people of Brazil are using cash, they are forced to trust the people around them to choose the correct bill, or give them the correct change. Auire gives visually-impaired people control over that process – letting them know with confidence what money they are using. It also allows the blind to dress themselves in matching colors (my brother could use this) and to identify things like food products by color, both at home and in the store.

Nathalia created the first color identifier as part of a university service project, then after graduation, the couple kept on working, traveling to different cities and villages, testing and refining the technology to make it work more efficiently and effectively. A competitive color-identifier product made in Europe sells for about $600. Auire’s prototype now costs about $84 –but Fernando and Nathalia are working determinedly to bring the cost down to about $40 or $50, to make it affordable for most of the visually impaired. And anybody can see the market potential and social impact of cutting the cost of this dignity-enhancing device by 90%!

Fernando & Nathalia, Auire inventors

Auire is simple, portable, affordable and will be manufactured in Brazil if Fernando can convince investors to back his product. I hope the potential of Auire to promote the independence of 300 million visually-impaired people around the globe is convincing– it’s pretty clear to me! I’m sending $100 today to help Fernando and Nathalia. To join me click here.

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What Gives New Flash!

Emily Pilloton of Project H Design (1/9) was named a TED fellow and will speak in London at the big TED conference July 11-13. But even more awesome, she appeared on the Colbert Report!  Click here to watch.

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