Pramit Bhargava graduated from prestigious engineering and management institutions in India and had an exciting career with many large multinational companies. An unexpected incident changed all of that, practically overnight.
The side-effect of a medicine he took in 1999 impacted his Retina, causing his vision to dramatically declining ever since. By 2012, he was not able to read anything, leaving him miserable and not knowing what to do. This low-point was completely unexpected especially for someone who had graduated from India’s prestigious engineering and management institutions (IIT and IIM) and worked for global companies such as Unilever, Motorola, and Quest Diagnostics. He wasn’t able to come to terms with this situation.
Fast forward a few years and Pramit found himself building a voice based interface for visually impaired people so they could accomplish a lot with just their phones.
The inspiration for Louie Voice Control was a simple Uber ride. One day, a sighted friend was booking a Uber ride for Pramit. To book the ride, the friend kept asking Pramit questions and made the appropriate selections in the Uber app. In a matter of minutes, the booking was done! This experience made Pramit wonder how empowering it would be for the visually impaired if the phone were to read out menu options, accept their verbal responses as inputs and make the booking. With this “aha” moment, Pramit got to work and set up a team that has built Louie.
Louie is an accessibility App and can be used by all voice-lovers including but not limited to visually impaired, blind, motor-disabled, elderly, people with limited manual dexterity and all hands-free lovers. The idea is simple – a blind user provides instructions to an app with just voice and the action is immediately performed – whether it’s booking a ride on Uber, reading and responding to texts on the phone or finding a video on YouTube.
How does Louie differ from other popular smart assistants like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant? For starters, none of the existing services can do what Louie can:
- Voice Assistants tend to be superficial & will allow you to do only 2-3 things within an App. Louie in comparison will fully voice control an App – each and every feature of it.
- Leading Voice Assistants or Personal Assistants have a bad habit of going silent every now and then. Louie in comparison will do a two-way continuous interaction – just like a human interaction
In short, Louie is all about being able to operate popular Apps and do everything within those Apps using voice commands. As of today, Louie supports YouTube, WhatsApp, Uber, Contacts & Phone Calling. More Apps are under development.
Even though Louie is currently in beta, it is already a hit in the visually impaired community around the world. Pramit has made the beta version of the app available for free to get blind users to start using it and get feedback from them on what can be improved. Through Louie, Pramit is building a community of users in over 70 countries that are excited at the prospect of using Louie on a daily basis. The “early access” version of the app can be downloaded from Google Playstore.
Pramit’s team of developers and testers is working hard on making Louie available to everyone. Stay tuned for more updates as Louie becomes not only a reality but also a way of life for many!
Below, you will find two videos – the first is of Pramit explaining Louie and how it works. The second is an interview with Pramit where we talk in detail about what Louie is, Pramit’s vision for it, how he plans to scale it, potential pricing, and how Louie can easily become a blind person’s virtual companion.