Jul 1, 2021
This podcast is about big ideas on how technology is making life better for people with vision loss.
Today’s big idea is how we can use touch and sound together to create spatial awareness. Just like learning to play the piano or another instrument, smart cane technology engages the both sound and touch to compensate for loss of vision. Kürşat Ceylan, the founder and CEO of WeWALK, shares how the WeWALK smart cane engages a number of senses to develop new autonomy for users, and how their technology is a jumping-off point for integrating other technologies.
The Big Takeaways:
Kürşat Ceylan was born in 1986. He was born blind. Kürşat studied psychological counseling at Boğaziçi University. During his university years, he was selected to attend the YGA Leadership Program as one of 50 participants out of 50,000 applicants. He volunteered on projects for the socioeconomic development of the visually impaired. After his graduation, he started to work at Roche, Istanbul. During this time, he was producing and hosting a Turkish award-winning radio show called, "Exploration of Emotions that are Suppressed by Sight", which aired every week on NTV Radio. In 2015, he resigned from Roche and started working at YGA as project leader, spearheading projects for the visually impaired. Kürşat won various global awards for his work in the field of visual impairment, dealing with indoor navigation, audio description in movie theatres, and the WeWALK Smart Cane. Currently, Kürşat Ceylan is the co-founder of WeWALK Technology INC, which strives to solve problems for people who are visually impaired through innovation.
Calvin W. Roberts, MD, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse Guild, the leading organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss. Dr. Roberts has a unique blend of academic, clinical, business, and hands-on product development experience. Dr. Roberts is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College. He was formerly Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Eye Care, at Bausch Health Companies where he coordinated global development and research efforts across their vision care, pharmaceutical, and surgical business units. As a practicing ophthalmologist from 1982 to 2008, he performed more than 10,000 cataract surgeries as well as 5,000 refractive and other corneal surgeries. He is credited with developing surgical therapies, over-the-counter products for vision care, prescription ocular therapeutics, and innovative treatment regimens. He also holds patents on the wide-field specular microscope and has done extensive research on ophthalmic non-steroidals and postoperative cystoid macular edema. Dr. Roberts has co-founded a specialty pharmaceutical company and is a frequent industry lecturer and author. He currently serves as an Independent Director on multiple corporate boards and has served as a consultant to Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis. A graduate of Princeton University and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, Dr. Roberts completed his internship and ophthalmology residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He also completed cornea fellowships at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston.