As the weather turns chilly and we approach the start of a new year, it seems fitting we take advantage of the moment to announce the start of a fresh chapter. Much has happened in 2020. I hope that wherever my note finds you, you are warm, safe, and among loved ones, even if remotely. I hope my news will give you a spark of something to look forward to in the coming decade.
The assistive technology landscape of today is vastly different from the environment we experienced even a decade ago. As I predicted in article after article, major companies in the Assistive Technology industry fell, merged, or tried reinventing themselves to keep pace with the demands of an evolving marketplace.
Through it all, I patiently adjusted my approach to meet the inevitable change. Rather than fall victim to the evolution, I did some serious soul searching, asking myself: Was I still relevant? Was I still capable of creating change for our community? I concluded that there was more to be done and I chose to redirect my energy toward writing a new chapter in the quest to bring access to digital information in new and exciting ways.
That probably sounds self-congratulatory. It’s not meant to come across that way. But hey, accompanied by an incredible team at Serotek and some of the most hard-working leaders in the assistive technology industry, I put in the hard work and earned the right to brag on our efforts, especially with the latest undertaking in my World. For you, only the best is acceptable.
Meet Pneuma Solutions
Pneuma is a Greek word for wind or Spirit with intelligence. Think of it as the breath that binds everything together. Using the power of today’s largest cloud infrastructures, machine learning platforms, and a commitment to leave no technological stone unturned, Pneuma Solutions is actively plotting to redefine outdated development practices and deliver maximum impact for you, our customer.
In today’s market, it is not enough to put up a website or develop an app and call it success. It’s certainly a double-edged sword for consumers when anyone, for just a few bucks, can throw together a few services and call it a business. In order to do the job right, a company has to follow through with a strong foundation based on understanding of the market, committed leadership, an intimate knowledge of cutting-edge technologies and how to apply them, and flexible objectives that ensure we keep customer success at the forefront. Combining more than fifty years in assistive technology software development, training, and out of the box approaches to everyday tasks, Pneuma Solutions’ mission is to develop powerful tools to augment essential access to the next generation of products that make previously inaccessible content widely available.
The Triumphant Return
Before we get much further, let’s set the record straight. Yes, I, Mike Calvo, am back!
If we have not had the pleasure of meeting, my name was most recently associated with Serotek Corporation, a company I founded in 2000. I am that guy that says “something should be done about this” and then does it.
Back in the day I felt it was my mission to hold the accessible technology industry accountable for what I felt were unfair business practices. Their prohibitive pricing models restricted a person’s access to screen reading and magnification software as well as the training on their use. Only educational and rehabilitation related funding sources provided these services to eligible clients. The blind person that did not fit in to this mold would never have affordable access to a computer and the independence it promised.
The industry refused to listen to me as a blind consumer and respected trainer, so I started Serotek with the dream of giving the average blind user ubiquitous access to technologies that have always been a part of the sighted consumer’s World. And, for almost two decades I am proud to say, we did it!
As the CEO and Cofounder of Pneuma Solutions, I continue to beat the drum of equal access to digital information by the blind. I am laser focused on continuing to bridge the accessibility gap. But the challenges are different now. Before it was just the PC. Now, while accessibility is baked into consumer and corporate platforms to one degree or another, we still have much work to do on this new playing field, leveraging the power of The Cloud.
I continue to be a blind person first. I’ve got ideas, and I intend to lead my team wherever we need to go to complete as many of those ideas as we can. But, one thing you can count on is that I won’t hoard ideas. I don’t care who does it, as long as our community benefits from it. Any entrepreneurial benefit born of my life’s work is to the benefit of future development of other products that will improve the lives of persons with disabilities around the world. And trust me, we’ve got some wild ideas in our heads. Compared to the conventional ways companies still operate, isn’t this refreshing?
Another familiar name joining the leadership team at Pneuma Solutions is my former lead developer at Serotek and good friend, Matt Campbell. Matt joins the new company as Chief Technology Officer after spending the last few years cultivating accessibility efforts at Microsoft. His contributions as part of the amazing accessibility team helped the Narrator screen reader become the robust option it is today. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to have my old sidekick back for another round of innovation, and as Cofounder to boot!
Matt and I have always made for a dynamic powerhouse. Where I feel I provide the roadmap and product ideas, Matt provides the expertise to see these dreams come to life. We once played a dual role in reshaping productivity, entertainment, and information for consumers and at-home employees. Now we are focusing our efforts on the enterprise where our collective talents can multiply the benefits to the end user. We do this by providing greater opportunities in access to digital information, broadening the quality and scope of educational and career possibilities.
So What Rock Have I Been Hiding Under?
Never one to sit still, in the last few years I have worked on several ventures. They have ranged in scope from the most recreational company imprinting selfies on chocolate to the most rewarding blindness advocacy projects in Colombia, Uganda, Kazakhstan, and Cuba. These latter endeavors I tackled as the director of the advocacy organization I founded in 2007, the Accessibility Is A Right Foundation. One of those projects was a pilot that actually led to a law that will forever impact the lives of thousands of blind students in Colombia. As a result of our efforts, the country will provide government financed computers preloaded with access technology beginning in elementary school.
For the last few years, Matt and I have been working with various bleeding edge technologies in a variety of scenarios. We’ve completed the first phase of our work in our secret underground lab, developing a solution we feel will have maximum benefit for both the consumer and enterprise realms.
Unveiling the Next Best Thing
First to roll out of the lab is Scribe, our Augmented document remediation platform. Scribe is more than just about turning occasional images into readable text. When deployed, Scribe can power through millions of pages of data at a fraction of the time and cost it would have taken using legacy human remediation and desktop software. Combining machine learning technologies, and the most powerful cloud computing platform on the planet, the level of accuracy and speed is expected to increase exponentially from the already impressive results we have achieved.
In plain English, if you thought scanning software for the blind was good, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Everybody wins! By leveraging our platform’s continually evolving features, lots of exciting changes are possible. For corporate, educational, and government entities, Scribe will result in the capacity to reach diverse customers and constituents at a competitive rate and faster than any other technology on the market. For the consumer, the new technology promises the ability to consume just about any digital content with the same ease and flexibility as any peer while using your access technology of choice.
Closely following on its heels is Scribe for Meetings. Though only a beta at this stage, we are excited to make it possible for you to view shared documents on Zoom. With a simple keystroke you will be able to enjoy PowerPoint presentations and other file types at the same time as everyone else in the audience. We are working on expanding the functionality to other popular platforms to give presenters and participants greater flexibility.
This is just a taste of what’s to come.
New Home, Traditional Values
For anyone who knows anything about us, it should come as no surprise we want to maintain a connection to the community we planted and cultivated at Serotek. We do not believe in turning our backs on the community who placed so much trust in us. To that end, I’m proud to announce we will be providing a few of the Serotek products that still resonate with a lot of you.
Existing Serotek customers should not fear a disruption in service. Sero, DocuScan Plus, RIM, and RAM will continue to evolve alongside Pneuma Solutions products. These traditional favorites will soon be powered by the same technology that has already made products like Scribe a noteworthy option for savvy users. Customers, old and new, can depend on a commitment to excellence at a reasonable cost.
Best of all, we are doubling up our efforts to make new products like Scribe as intuitive as any of our previous contributions to the community have ever been. Despite the extraordinary technology at work here, for you the experience will remain as seamless as ever.
We never cease to be humbled by the thousands of current users of our previously developed technologies even twenty years after the launch of Serotek. Our combined efforts continue to be motivated by a moral obligation to the advancement of our community rather than a totally financial one. We do not believe any user, no matter how novice or how expert, should spend unnecessary time reading user manuals or getting trained to learn to use technology.
Also, we have not forgotten our spirit of philanthropy. Starting in May of 2020, K-12 institutions have had access to a free version of Scribe to use immediately with students in order to make remote learning more inclusive for all. Everyone at Pneuma Solutions understands the unique challenges brought on by the pandemic, and we want to do what we can to make these challenges a little less exhausting.
Pneuma Solutions is fully operational and ready to engage with you. In the next little while we will be releasing further information on product demonstrations to show how products like Scribe can blend into existing workflows.
So what are we dreaming of that makes people think we’re crazy? Our most audacious, ambitious objective? We are going to humanize technology, and it is going to serve you and me and make our lives more accessible everywhere!
Stay tuned. The best once promised has only begun.
– Mike Calvo, Pneuma Solutions Cofounder and CEO