When Wilma Emanuelsson realized that there were shortcomings in the help for dyslexics, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Now after the student, she will invest in her eye tracking company full time.
Wilma Emanuelsson got the idea for her eye tracking company last year, during a hackathon for high school students on the theme “Education for all”. The subject made her think of her friend, who has dyslexia, and who had been told by a teacher that what her friend had done at school was “good enough” given her reading and writing difficulties. Wilma Emanuelsson did not think this was very motivating, and laid the foundation for her company.
– I hardly knew that dyslexia was a problem before, my understanding of it was that it was about reading difficulties and I understood that it was difficult. But I thought there must be good help. It exists, but it is not good enough, says Wilma Emanuelsson to Ny Teknik.
Dyslexia is a difficulty in absorbing and automating the connection between letters and speech sounds. Those who have dyslexia can, for example, get hooked on words when they read, read incorrectly and omit parts or whole words. It can also be difficult to spell. Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence, and with the right help and training, it is also possible to reduce the difficulties. Tools that are available today and that can make it easier for those who have reading and writing difficulties are, for example, talking books and talking magazines, speech synthesis and smart pens.
Wilma Emanuelsson has, however, lacked something in the range of aids. Now she is developing technology that she believes can really make life easier for people with dyslexia. It is a program based on eye tracking and the idea is that someone with reading difficulties should only have to look at a text in a screen to hear exactly what is written in real time. The technology should be as simple as possible for the user and “just work”. It is similar to the “inner voice” that many hear when they read something.
– We build new algorithms based on how people read and how a person with dyslexia reads, to follow a human reading pattern. It is very important that we make sure that it works just as well for someone who has dyslexia and autism, as for someone who only has dyslexia, for example, says Wilma Emanuelsson.
A little further ahead, she hopes that the technology will be integrated with ar and vr.
– We do not just want a desktop solution with eye tracking. We want you to be able to wear a pair of glasses and read text that is not on a screen, such as a book or a sign, and get the same functions. We do not want anyone to be left out of the AR and VR development, which is really on the rise. Text in vr will be just as difficult to read for a dyslexic as other text, says Wilma Emanuelsson.
Built up a plan early
She is responsible for the technology development in the company Itrack Reading, ie codes and builds the algorithms. Although she is only 18 years old, she has long experience in programming, as she became interested in cybersecurity and penetration testing at the age of seven.
– I can only thank myself for how I was as a child, for how much I focused on teaching myself the technology. It was probably not healthy how much I sat awake at night to learn as much as possible. I built up a plan very early on for what I wanted to do, says Wilma Emanuelsson.
After winning that hackathon last year, Wilma Emanuelsson received free coaching in running a business. It was then that the idea of an aid for dyslexics began to move towards a reality and a company. Today, the three work in the company, and after winning another competition and receiving media attention, the company’s development has begun to go relatively quickly.
Ny Teknik meets Wilma Emanuelsson after she told about Itrack Reading on stage during the conference Women in Tech in Stockholm in May. We barely have time to sit down before a woman arrives and asks to take a selfie with Wilma Emanuelsson, because she “is the coolest I know”.
Wilma Emanuelsson has worked with the company in addition to the last year of high school, and read a specialization in information and media technology. On June 7, she took the student. Now she is getting ready to work full time on her project.
– This company will be my focus now because I believe so much in this idea and that it can create a big change for a lot of people. I put everything else on the shelf for so long, to make sure this comes out, says Wilma Emanuelsson.
“The best time to do something is now”
She sees it as an advantage to be young and run a business, partly because there are so many who are then impressed, want to support and help.
– This to constantly think that you should do something when you get older, because that’s when you should actually do it, I say no to that. The best time to do something is now, says Wilma Emanuelsson and continues:
– Even if my company were to go bankrupt now, or none of what we work with would prove to work, I have still learned an incredible amount. I am 18 years old, and just the fact that I managed to start this company and do everything I have done has taught me so much and given me amazing experience. It is not dangerous to fail, and at my age you can take many risks. You win so much more than you can lose. The only thing you can really lose is time, but you gain so much that it does not matter so much.
The company is currently in the research stage, and the company also wants to raise investments to be able to carry out studies and testing in parallel with building a technical prototype.
– If we get the money we need within the next month, we can have a product on the market within a year, says Wilma Emanuelsson.
This is how Itrack Reading works
This is how the technology behind Itrack Reading works. An eye tracking device, ie a device that can read where the person is looking in real time, is installed on a laptop or desktop computer with a USB input. This combined with Itrack Reading creates an eye-to-speech feature (what you see, you hear).
– Reading is active and the user controls speed with their eyes, which contributes to, among other things, better information absorption, Wilma Emanuelsson explains.
The sound (eyes-to-speech) has been developed by Itrack Reading.