This 55-Year Old IIT-BHU, IIM-B Alumnus Harnessed AI To Craft A Voice Assistant For The Visually Impaired

In the bustling world of technology, Pramit Bhargava’s story stands out as a beacon of resilience and innovation. An alumnus of IIT-BHU and IIM-B, Bhargava’s life took a dramatic turn when a drug reaction began affecting his retina two decades ago. By 2012, he could no longer read. But adversity often breeds innovation.

What to know? While the tech world offered basic screen readers for the visually impaired, Bhargava, with his rich background working with giants like Hindustan Unilever and Motorola, envisioned something more. He dreamt of an app that would allow visually impaired users to navigate popular apps using just voice commands. This dream materialized into ‘Louie Voice’, named in homage to Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille system.

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Unlike popular voice assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa, which cater primarily to sighted users, ‘Louie‘ delves deeper. It doesn’t just scratch the surface; it offers comprehensive voice support for apps. For instance, while other voice assistants might struggle with booking an Uber, ‘Louie’ guides users through the entire process, from setting a destination to confirming a pickup.

Moving past hurdles: Bhargava’s journey wasn’t without challenges. Convincing developers and securing funding were initial hurdles. With backing from Sequoia Capital, he assembled a dedicated team, including three visually impaired developers, to tailor the app perfectly for its target audience.

Using Google’s speech-to-text conversion and other AI technologies, ‘Louie’ has become a game-changer. Available on Android and iOS, it’s now used in 70 countries, with the majority of its users being visually impaired. For Bhargava, ‘Louie’ isn’t just an app; it’s a mission to make technology accessible for all, proving that challenges can indeed pave the way for groundbreaking innovations.

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