Young Startup Helps Blind People Thrive

Florian Esteves and Mathieu Chevalier went from being college students to entrepreneurs in less than 2 years. Along the way they won a national award, met the president of France, and had the satisfaction of helping blind people become more independent.

It was all thanks to the Internet of Things.

The 2 engineering students entered a competition to use technology to solve a social or environmental challenge. With 3 fellow students from their Cisco Networking Academy course, they designed a networked walking stick to help blind people navigate city streets safely and with confidence.

The stick uses infrared and ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles, triggering the handle to vibrate. It taps into municipal tagging systems to share data on traffic lights, bus schedules, business hours, and more through a Bluetooth headset.

Florian and Mathieu’s team won the competition, earning €70,000 and mentoring support for one year.

The stick takes advantage of the next wave of digital innovation – the “Internet of Things.”

Florian and Mathieu’s team won the competition, earning €70,000 and mentoring support for one year.

“I’ve seen 50 or 60 startup pitches, and no one did anything like this,” says one of the team’s mentors, Remi Sedilot.

While their teammates returned to school, Florian and Mathieu launched a startup, called Handisco, and secured funding from investors. They demonstrated their walking stick to thousands of people at major Cisco customer events and on television news shows in the United States and France.

“At a time when connected objects are growing in number and invading our lives, Handisco has decided to make them available to vulnerable people, particularly the blind,” says Mathieu.

Want to be an entrepreneur with a social mission like Florian and Mathieu? Learn how you can harness the Internet of Things to solve a problem, start a business, or support a cause you believe in.

Take the next step. Enroll in our free online course: "Introduction to IoT." You can work through the short course at your own pace, and gain insights that will expand your career options, whatever path you may be on.