Inspiration : PANNANA application - Innovation for disabled peopl

For normal people, going to the cinema is simple – pick the film you want, buy a ticket, sit and watch. But that is not the case for the blind people and their handicap has inspired the creation of an application known as PANNANA (descriptive).

The Innovation Thailand has the opportunity to talk to Khun Chatchai Aphibanpoonphol, the developer of PANNANA, about the concept and origin of the innovation for an easier life.

Why did you think about creating innovation for the disadvantaged?

The idea came from my involvement in the production of educational media for the blind students called Paka Len Sen (pens for drawing lines). The media allows the blind to draw pictures which we used to think was impossible for them. What we learned is that the disability does not exist but only the environment is disabled. In other words, that is a situational problem, not a problem with the person, and the problem can be solved by ways of design. There are few innovations related to people with disabilities in Thailand.
So it encourages us to design the process, device and environment to enable people with disabilities and normal individuals to live together.

What did the PANNANA concept originate?

PANNANA application originated from the desire that blind people should be able to watch movies. Watching movies is a social activity that people can do very easily, but not for the blind. The blind can watch by listening to a special audio description (AD) but that means the cinema must be closed to the public for the purpose and the movie will have a voice narration. But to have the AD incurring high costs for you, the cinema and movie producers. So such a special show cannot be often arranged. So I came to think of how the blind can watch movies anytime, anywhere, and most importantly, not being segregated with a special show being set aside for them. They should be able to sit and watch the film with their friends with good eyesight at the same time. We tried many different methods until we found that most blind people have access to smartphones through which they can watch movies.

At first we thought that we could turn on the AD along with the movie, or have to press some buttons to activate the narration upon the running of the movie. Then we found Shazam, an app that tells the name of the song as we play it. So we made use of the same model to create the PANNANA app. What the app is able to tell is at the point in time when the movie is running the AD should be activated to match the pictures exactly. With this application, visually-impaired people can go to the same cinema as people with good eyesight. They need only to press the application 1 button and enjoy the show as other people unsegregated.

How is the innovation for people with disabilities in Thailand?

We must admit that our environment is not designed for people with disabilities and underprivileged. The handicapped have to innovate themselves to survive. I used to take a disabled Thai in wheelchair to a department store in Europe but there was no lift to be seen. So my friend on the wheelchair then helped himself to grip the railing of escalator, adjusting position and moving up the stairs. All the people in the department store stared at him in astonishment as they had never seen this before. Foreigners admire Thai disabled people as being very strong -- that's because the environment in our homeland is cruel.

What do you think about Thai innovations?

I think Thai people are very creative. At the time of floods, we have seen a lot of innovations emerging like a motorcycle with a long leg, making a raft from water bottles, or vehicles with high exhaust pipes. It is during the times of trouble that we see very innovative ideas coming from Thai people. We don't have to think big, it is sufficient to come up with ideas which could help others around you to live a better life.

That is the view of Khun Chatchai. If Thai people open their minds to accept and learn, they can a part in creating a livable Thai society. That is because we believe that only design and innovation will enable us to live happily and equally.