Beltmap was founded in 2018, the brainchild of Francesco Volpi, a 34-year-old engineer from Finale Ligure (SV) who works in Genoa and Milan. The team is completed by Paolo Ferrazza, a 33-year-old engineer from Genoa, and Giorgia Delogu, a 22-year-old economist from Bocconi school. The start-up has created a highly innovative electronic device in the smart mobility sector, which enables people with visual impairments to orient themselves and move around freely in space. Through the use of a special belt connected to a mobile app, the device is capable of giving directional commands and guiding the subject to their chosen destination. A device that is made in Italy and that is, at the same time, unique on the market, which has already attracted the attention of electronics multinationals such as Renesas, which sponsored part of the industrialization.
Beltmap represents a veritable “Google Maps for the visually impaired”, capable of instantly geo-locating the user and leading them to their chosen destination. Beltmap users, wearing the belt connected to the proprietary app, have the opportunity to focus completely on their own movements, autonomously avoiding common road hazards and surrounding distractions caused by environmental noise.
The product was designed, manufactured, and tested thanks to the support of AGERANV – Association of Parents of Visually Impaired Children – of the Italian Blind Union, and of the Blind Institute of Milan.
The product has the following characteristics:
- The proprietary Mobile App, compatible with both Android and iOS devices, can use multiple third-party map services, including those of Google Maps, and uses voice commands to identify the desired route.
- The hardware (vibrating belt) and software (smartphone app) are integrated and wireless: both use Bluetooth Low Energy technology for connection.
- The device has ample charging autonomy.
- The solution is complementary to the use of an aid, such as a white stick, which enables the person to detect obstacles or nearby hazards.
Beltmap’s path within Get it! – the impact investment readiness program of Fondazione Social Venture GDA
The Beltmap team successfully participated in the second Call for Impact of Get it! – Sustainable and Accessible Tourism and Enhancement of Cultural and Environmental Heritage. The Social Venture GDA Foundation program, created in partnership with Cariplo Factory, offered the start-up an incubation path at the Lombardy Accelerator Impact Hub Milan, and the development of its business strategy under the mentorship program, in synergy with Alfredo Scarfone, Board Members di TechSoup.
Thanks to the Get it! Call For Impact programs, the Beltmap team has embarked on a path of growth and enhancement of its business project, allowing it to interface with an audience of investors who are interested in supporting the start-up’s strategy.
The investment of Fondazione Social Venture GDA
On May 16, 2019, as part of the Get it! Investor Day, the Fondazione Social Venture Giordano Dell’Amore named Beltmap as Best Start-up For Impact 2019, encouraging its potential impact and investing €27,500 in equity.
Watch Beltmap’s video: