Everyone knows that a man on the hunt for better technology cannot be stopped. “The iPad shouldn’t only help us play games and watch videos,” Frederic Guibet explains.
A man on a mission, this 40-year-old French entrepreneur has created CommunicoTool, a tablet app that, “assists people of all ages who suffer with language decoding.”
From autism to cerebral palsy, “8% of the global population has, has had, or will have difficulty with language in their life,” says Guibet. In practice, the CommunicoTool app processes pictures of objects nearly instantaneously, and turns them into pictograms. Then, a programmed voice says the name of the object aloud, thus allowing the user to communicate with others, develop social skills, and work on language acquisition. In other versions of the app, the user can also communicate emotions or specify on their body where they are feeling physical pain.
“The idea is to have photographs of all the objects integral to our daily lives, so that simple demands can be met,” explains Guibet. “For autistic children, parents now have the opportunity to hear their child’s true voice.”
Hailing from Normandy, Guibet spent most of his career as a neuropsychologist; he never intended to become an entrepreneur. CommunicoTool was created in response to Guibet’s own struggle to communicate with his 8-year-old daughter, Reïnnah, who has autism. “I wanted to create a communication system that was affordable and easy to use, because I understood that there was nothing else like it on the market.” CommunicoTool’s journey began in 2011, when Guibet put his science-oriented mind to the test and took courses in applied computer programming through Afpa (Association pour la formation professionelle des adultes). After debuting at Normandie Incubation (a group that funds startups), Guibet officially founded his company in November 2012. The first prototype of the CommunicoTool was unveiled a year later.
In addition to working closely with his team of eight people at the company’s base in France, Guibet has also been collaborating stateside with Julie Laurent since March 2015. Based in San Francisco and working as a PR director at Viadeo for the US and Latin America, Laurent discovered CommunicoTool two years after her eldest daughter was diagnosed with autistim. “It’s a beautiful project. I went from being in Viadeo’s surface level world to working on something that makes a difference.”
In October 2016, Guibet and Laurent took CommunicoTool to New York where it clenched the MedStartUp Award, the top prize at the MedStartUp competition, organized by Business France and the Galien Foundation. Just one month later, the dynamic duo presented the app in the Bay Area Abilities Expo in San Jose, California. In just a few short years, CommunicoTool has already established itself in the world of abilities technology.
Already, over 150 health centers across the US have installed CommunicoTool on their patients’ tablets. (The Brooklyn Autism Center in New York is one of their many happy customers.) Currently the company is in the middle of a crowdfunding operation to finance commercial development and research projects on cognitive disorders. This month, CommunicoTool creates its first subsidiary in the US, to continue the incredible work they’ve begun. “France is not as advanced in ability assistance technology,” says Guilbet. “The United States is where you go to succeed.”