A voice for Clara
Clara, the daughter of Carlos Pereira in Brazil, was born with brain damage. As Clara tried unsuccessfully to communicate with them, Carlos learned programming. And the Livox app was born. This app enables non-verbal people all over the world to communicate.
What is the story behind Livox?
My daughter Clara was born in 2007. Due to a medical error during my wife’s labour, Clara suffered a lack of oxygen, which resulted in cerebral palsy and brain damage. Initially we didn’t know how bad the damage was, but I decided there and then that I would help my daughter as best I could.
The app adjusts to suit the user’s requirements. It uses artificial intelligence to understand the context of a conversation and display possible conversational passages for the person with limited communication skills. Livox learns as the person uses the app and eventually shows the user options that they would most likely use in a given situation. What’s more, intelligent algorithms adjust to the user and their limitation or disability. For example, the functions for a person with autism differ from those for a person with cerebral palsy. An imperfect sense of touch in people with motor disabilities is corrected automatically. However, the software can also be operated completely by the user’s eyes.
How hard was it for you to quit your job and start this ambitious project?
When I was told about my daughter’s disability, I looked for alternative methods of treatment to help her. I saw that treatment would cost 40,000 dollars. Back then I only had 10 dollars in my bank account. I decided to launch a fundraising campaign asking people to donate towards her treatment. This caused quite a stir in Brazil as Clara was the first person in Brazil to undergo this treatment. We were able to raise the entire amount and she received the treatment. It improved her condition, but there is no cure. The media storm attracted the attention of foreign investors and they asked me what I thought about opening a rehabilitation centre in Brazil. I persuaded them to invest in my home town, quit my job, rented a large house and we opened a first-rate facility for people with disabilities. I hired speech therapists, physiotherapists and all kinds of other experts for our clinic.
Why did you develop the Livox app?
As Clara got older, I noticed that she was trying to communicate with us. But it was too hard for her. That’s when I learned programming and developed the Livox platform. My experiences in the rehabilitation centre meant that I was able to develop algorithms to help solve many of the problems faced by people with disabilities.
What happened next?
Many of the patients at the hospital started using Livox. Then people throughout Brazil. Google heard about our story and invited us to its annual event − Google IO. They made a short film about our history and even announced us on stage. Later, they gave us a grant of half a million dollars so we could improve Livox.
What does the Livox Store offer?
When I founded Livox, the app was intended as a function for alternative communication. However, our Android tablet users starting creating astonishing content that extends beyond alternative communication. We created the Livox Store with the aim of sharing our experiences. It is literally an archive containing thousands of high-quality contributions and content ideas for a wide range of app users. The Livox Store expands the possibilities open to users. For example, it offers alternative communication boards, books, routines for autistic users, musical instruments, seasonal boards and maths or science courses. All this content is available free of charge for Livox users.
What do you hope to achieve with Livox?
My goal is to support all people with limited communication skills, as I did with my daughter Clara. Communication is such a powerful tool, and every person must be given the opportunity to use their voice.