London/Instanbul-based makers of a smartphone-connected smart cane for the visually impaired, WeWALK has raised £2 million in a venture round. The funding will help the company press forward with its goal of incorporating computer vision technology into its offer. Since 2020, the startup has raised approximately £7.5 million.
The £2 million venture round was led by Nesta Impact Investments and joined by KHP Ventures, APY Ventures, and Vestel Ventures. The round also saw the participation of angel investors including a Crowdcube raise and the Manchester City and German international footballer İlkay Gündoğan.
Launched in 2019, WeWALK’s first product is a GPS-enabled smart cane that connects to a smartphone app to make navigation easier and safer for visually impaired individuals. The device can detect obstacles and vibrate to help the user avoid them, provide navigation prompts, and update users with key details like bus and train timings or which restaurants are nearby.
The cane was named one of TIME Magazine’s best inventions of 2019 and according to the company has thousands of users across over 59 countries.
Addressing a potential market of an estimated 253 million people globally, WeWALK now wants to push the envelope even further.
Addressing a potential market of an estimated 253 million people globally, in partnership with Imperial College London and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the WeWALK team plans to use the fresh capital to incorporate computer vision capabilities for the smart cane; allowing users to be given far more information about what’s in front of them.
“WeWALK's products are already transforming the lives of visually impaired people across the world by improving their mobility, but there’s so much more to be done,” says co-founder and CEO Gökhan Meriçliler. “We want to scale our business to reach a wider global audience and advance our technology to offer better, more meaningful information to visually impaired people, older people, and anyone that faces mobility challenges. This VC-backed round will enable us to unlock that next phase of development and transform mobility for millions.”
In December of 2020, Tech.eu spoke to WeWALK R&D lead Jean Marc Feghali.