Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

Tech

Stark raises $1.5M for a toolkit that helps developers and others create more inclusive design

Published

on

Diversity and inclusion are slowly, slowly moving away from being an afterthought (or worse, a no-thought) in the tech world. And to underscore the new attention the area is getting — in every aspect of the concept — today a startup that’s building tools to help designers and developers make their end products more accessible to people with visual impairments is announcing some funding.

Stark, a New York-based startup that lets designers others building with design software run their files through an integrated tool that checks it and provides color edits and other suggestions to help them meet guidelines for people who see less well, has picked up $1.5 million.

Stark plans to use the funding to continue building integrations into commonly-used design apps and create integrations for developers (where it will read and provide guidance on code: next up is a Github integration), and continue building out its business with expanded pricing and usage tiers.

Currently, users can use plugins of Stark on Figma, Sketch & Adobe XD that let them access a Contrast Checker, Smart Color Suggestions, 8 Colorblind Simulations, a Colorblind Generator, and Rapid Contrast Checking (on Adobe XD).

Longer term, the plan is to build and end-to-end platform and to address inclusivity for other kinds of needs beyond visual impairments, and, since accessibility can come in physical forms, too, to consider more than just software, and to create more ways to automatically correct details.

As Cat Noone — the now-European-based CEO who co-founded the company with Michael Fouquet (the team is working remotely, she said) — describes it, the ambition is to “become the Grammarly for accessibility in software.”

The funding, a pre-seed round, is coming from a wide and interesting group of backers. It was led by Daniel Darling and Pascal Unger from Darling Ventures, with participation also from Jason Warner, the CTO of Github; Indicator Ventures; Kleiner Perkins’ Scout Fund; and Basecamp Ventures. Individual backers include the product lead for accessibility at Atlassian, the director of equitable design & impact at Culture Amp, a director of design at DuckDuckGo, a former VP of software development at Oracle, and more.

Part of the reason that Stark has gotten attention from all of these investors is because of its traction.

Early versions of the software have been out for eight months now, in the form of the plugins for Sketch, Adobe XD and Figma, and in that time it’s clocked up 300,000 users, mostly designers, engineers, and product managers across those three design platforms, with current customers including people from Microsoft, Oscar Health, US Bank, Instagram, Pfizer, Volkswagen, Dropbox and more.

It also has 10,000 people in its “community”, which includes people engaging with Stark more directly (rather than just using its plugins), on platforms like Slack, getting its newsletter and more.

Diversity and inclusion have been in the headlines this year, which is good news, even if the reason for it has been not so good — the sorry state of how minorities are treated by law enforcement. Partly because of the profile of those incidents and the subsequent protests, much of the world has associated the concept of D&I very closely with racial inclusion. While that story continues to unfold (and we hopefully continue see more positive and sustained efforts to address it), the kind of diversity and inclusion Stark is addressing is of a different sort.

It’s a logical, if often overlooked area: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that (as of 2018) around one in every four adults in the U.S. alone live with some form of disability (a figure that doesn’t count children), with the biggest of these being cognitive disabilities. This essentially means that while a lot of design (and tech in general) is not really built to address this wider group, it’s a very sizable market.

At a time when technology is regularly made out to be the bad guy — and the reasons are many, touching on mental health; physical health; and economic, environmental, civil and legal impacts — designing software and hardware that is more inclusive could go a very long way in bridging some of those gaps that tech has created with (and within) society.

“We’re talking about the largest minority group in the U.S.,” Noone said. “You wouldn’t build a building today without a wheelchair ramp, so why aren’t we accounting for those individuals in our software design?”

Noone said that she and Fouquet originally landed on the idea of Stark when they were doing some work for another firm, building an emergency services app that would get used by the elderly. They built a very early version of the tool for themselves to use in that work. Showing it to others, they found people asking if they could use it, too. “And then it just kind of snowballed,” she said.

She then said that she found herself going down a “rabbit hole into the world of design and accessibility” and realised that not only were there no tools really built to address this out there, but that there was “so much more to the problem than colors.” (Colors was where Stark started, hence the great name.)

There is an interesting stick and carrot in the bigger market with things like inclusive design: for some it might be an issue of having to comply, others simply believe it’s the right thing to do, while yet others may not care but (rather cynically) believe being inclusive is a good look. Whatever the motivation is, the trick with Stark is that it’s making it easy to be inclusive for more people, and lowering the barrier at the end of the day can only be a good thing.

“No software product should exclude a disadvantaged minority of their users. It’s bad for business and bad for society,” said Darling in a statement. “We’re seeing dramatic increasing awareness amongst software designers, developers and executives to ship products that are universally accessible. Stark has quickly earned the trust of the industry and is on a path to become an important part of software infrastructure. We’re thrilled to partner with such a mission driven company that is already improving how software is produced around the world.”​

Source

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

Published

on

Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

Advertisement

You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

Advertisement


Source

Continue Reading

Tech

Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

Published

on

Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

Source

Continue Reading

Tech

This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

Published

on

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

Advertisement


Source

Continue Reading

Trending