Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Annie

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One-line solution summary:

Self-Learning Braille Literacy device that helps the VI learn to read, write, and type in Braille, through interactive audio-guided content.

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Pitch your solution.

The braille literacy rates across the globe are abysmal. The lack of special educators, insufficient STEM content in Braille, and lack of general awareness have contributed to unemployability and inefficient rehabilitation among the visually impaired. Thinkerbell Labs is solving this problem via Annie - The World’s First Braille Literacy device that helps the visually impaired learn to read, write, and type in Braille, on their own through interactive audio-guided content in vernacular languages. This technology will enable self, collective and competitive learning, ease homework delivery and evaluation, and bring in easy tracking of progress. With Annie, Braille literacy rates and the learning outcomes can be dramatically improved. We believe that by onboarding millions of visually impaired people onto the connected platform and empowering them with relevant content, we would be able to convert people who were left out of the education pipeline to citizens who contribute positively to the economy.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The braille literacy rates across the globe are abysmal - less than 10% in the US, less than 4% in the UK, and less than 1% in India. India has the most visually impaired people in the world. The total annual economic burden due to the visually impaired in India is estimated at USD 77 billion of which USD 22 billion is due to childhood blindness. The current primary education tools include wooden blocks, marbles, and plastic slates, with continuous 1:1 teacher supervision. The lack of special educators, insufficient STEM content in Braille, and lack of general awareness have contributed to unemployability and inefficient rehabilitation among the visually impaired. This issue is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic with schools closed and visually impaired children having no access to education at all. The efficiency of Braille learning can be improved drastically. It is essential to address this issue as there is a very high correlation between Braille literacy and employment among the visually impaired.

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What is your solution?

Annie is the World’s First Braille Literacy device that helps the visually impaired learn to read, write, and type in Braille, on their own through interactive audio-guided content in vernacular languages. Annie allows for easy monitoring and evaluation of student progress via Helios (analytics) and downloading of new content by seamlessly integrating with the ecosystem. It also allows for the scheduling of tests and lessons and also enables teachers to give homework. Annie gives instantaneous feedback for mistakes and continuously evaluates the user, making the learning experience engaging and retentive. It introduces the world’s first digital braille games in single-player, multiplayer modes, challenges, lessons, and exercises to bring in a collaborative and smart learning experience.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our target population is visually impaired learners below the age of 15: 19M learners worldwide. With Annie, the Social Impact created will revolve around helping millions of visually impaired children become literate, thereby kickstarting their education and paving the way to employment and independence. Our long-term vision is to deploy connected hardware products which can deliver interactive educational content to visually impaired students anywhere in the world.

Outcomes of our intervention:

Increase in Braille literacy

Increased Employability as research has proven a link between Braille literacy and employability.

Increased employment opportunities will lead to higher incomes and reduce overall dependence on family members or the Government.

Reinvigorated interest in learning would increase word of mouth and lead to awareness and hence schools will see more enrollment of visually impaired students.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Increase the engagement of learners in remote, hybrid, and physical environments, including strategies and tools for parental support, peer interaction, and guided independent work.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Our vision is that Annie dramatically improves learning outcomes and increases the literacy rate of Braille worldwide. We believe that by onboarding millions of visually impaired people onto the connected platform and empowering them with relevant content, we would be able to convert people who were left out of the education pipeline to citizens who contribute positively to the economy. This ties in directly with Solve’s goals to Enable access to quality learning experiences, Increase the engagement of learners, Support teachers to adapt their pedagogy.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Bangalore, Karnataka, India
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

Thinkerbell Labs is a for-profit organization. Our flagship product, Annie has reached 16 states in India and centers in U.K. and U.A.E We currently have 35 customers onboard and 400 learners in our ecosystem. We are planning to scale internationally in the next 3 years.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Sanskriti Dawle- CEO & Co-Founder

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

Annie is the World’s First Braille Literacy device that helps the visually impaired learn to read, write, and type in Braille, on their own through interactive audio-guided content. This technology will enable self , collective and competitive learning, ease homework delivery and evaluation, and bring in easy tracking of progress. Key features of the device include:      

1.    Writing module : The digital Braille slate is the first-of-its-kind in the world and is unique to Annie. With audio feedback, and tactile input/output, the digital Braille slate is a foolproof method of teaching Braille writing with ease and efficiency.

2.    Typing module : The Braille keyboard is designed directly in line with the standard Brailler used worldwide, thus adhering to international standards, and training for real-life usage.

3.    Reading module : The refreshable Braille display consists of 2 large Braille cells and 6 standard sized Braille cells. It works in conjunction with the typing and writing modules, thus helping the user learn in real-time to read and write/type Braille at the same time, ensuring better learning outcomes.

4.    Data analytics : Continuous data capture of the children's usage pattern helps the teachers, parents, and the Government track device usage and the progress of each child.

5.    Premium interactive content: Custom designed interactive audio-tactile content ensures higher engagement and better consumption of lessons. Games, challenges, and learning assessment tools make practice fun and evaluation easy. Content in vernacular languages ensures that all children learn equally well.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Imaging and Sensor Technology
  • Internet of Things
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Children & Adolescents
  • Persons with Disabilities
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • India
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • India
  • South Africa
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Currently, there are 400 learners on Annie Ecosystem.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Our Indicators of impact:

  1. Number of Annies deployed
  2. Number of visually impaired children enrolled on our platform
  3. Hours spent to learn on Annie
  4. Number of lessons completed

These will give an overall picture of improvement in Braille literacy, enrollment in schools, and improved learning outcomes.

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About Your Team

How many people work on your solution team?

Full Time -10

Part-Time- 2

On contract-1

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How long have you been working on your solution?

6 years

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

The Team at Thinkerbell Labs has Expertise and Experience Across Multiple Disciplines Such as Sales, Marketing, Software Development, Customer Success, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Electronics, Mechanical, and Industrial Design. More than two decades of experience in inclusive education across the team combined.

This has allowed Thinkerbell Labs to Design and Manufacture Customized Hardware at a Large Scale in India and Distribute it Across the Country and Internationally.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

We are striving to build an inclusive and safe workplace that enables & respects people irrespective of ability, gender, caste, and religion. Our woman-led leadership team & our vision of making education inclusive for people with disabilities is a testament to our approach. We are conscious of our choice of not just our team members but also our investors, partners, and vendors aligning on the principles of Inclusion in each of our endeavors.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

We would like to partner with MIT D-Lab, MIT Media Lab, Solve Innovation Future, Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development for global grants and

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The ASA Prize for Equitable Education to advance your solution?

Annie learning ecosystem ties in directly with the ASA Prize for Equitable Education goals.
In developing countries, there is an acute shortage of special educators and teachers in the mainstream schools are not equipped with the necessary teaching methodologies to teach a student with visual impairments. Annie will reach visually impaired students studying in special schools and mainstream schools and help the untrained educator cater to them better.
In developed countries, Annie Learning Ecosystem will reach visually impaired students in inclusive schools, sensory services, and at home and help the SEN units in content adaptation, domain expertise, and progress monitoring.
Annie will democratize access to consistent and high-quality special education.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The AI for Humanity Prize to advance your solution?

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GSR Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Solution Team

 
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