DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Nadia Guevara and Pedro Bori on Smash-a-ball

Nadia Guevara and Pedro Bori explain their journey from Mexico to the UK to develop toys for the visually impaired and blind.
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When we were studying our degree in Educational Psychology, during a class on Special Education, we started to think: “wouldn’t it be nice if somebody started to create more fun and educational toys for the visually impaired and blind?”

“Yeah, that would be great,” we both agreed.

One day, suddenly, a thought started to bounce in our minds. We just realised a way that we could replace the visual elements of toys, games and board games and instead create an interactive haptic (relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception) toy.

We started to research and develop the idea, and focused on improving specific skills that we know are essential on a day to day basis for the visually impaired.

At the beginning we started to validate our theory, idea and concepts with different teachers from numerous Mexican universities, and all of them agreed that our concept was good in principle.

Pleased at our findings we didn’t stop. We continued working on the concept, using it as a class project and created a simple prototype, to test, measure and see if this actually improved the body and spatial awareness, memory and reaction rates on visually impaired and blind children.

As predicted, we increased these skills. That was a good and exciting achievement for us. We got inspired and applied to be part of a Mexico wide contest, but didn’t foresee the marketability of our ideas. Short story, we won the first prize against 469 other projects.

We started using the investment we won to further build actual, functional and automatic prototypes that would help us properly test the cognitive enhancement provided by our toys.

On our journey from Mexico to the UK, we landed two incredible opportunities, one of which lead to the other.

With our seven years of experience working with children and visually impaired children, we were awarded a place on UK Trade and Investment’s Sirius Programme, which helps graduate entrepreneurs to build successful companies in the UK.

With the support of the Sirius Programme, our aim is to become the best electronic toy company for the visually impaired in the UK, and then the world. Six months ago we established a team, and left everything behind us to start afresh in the UK.

Right now we are diversifying our company in three main segments, the electronic toys, non-electronic toys and apps, but maintaining the same mind set throughout. This is creating new toys and games from scratch to enable visually impaired and blind children to have fun as well as improve their cognitive development for an easier and better life.

Soon we’re going to launch a crowdfunding campaign, which will enable us to produce our first 800 units, and we know the best is yet to come, so… Let’s Smash-a-Ball!

Keep up to date with the news and developments around Smash-a-ball at www.smashaball.com

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