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Our history

Our history

The Tobii Dynavox history

The roots of Tobii Dynavox lie in two assistive technologies for communication industry pioneers: Sweden-based Tobii Technology and US-based DynaVox Systems. In 2014, they merged to give a voice to people with communication disabilities worldwide.

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The Tobii story

Founded in 2001, Tobii Technology began selling eye tracking technology for gaze analysis to provide insights on human viewing behaviour in areas such as psychology, athletics, and market research. In the summer of 2003, the Tobii founders met Dr. Mick Donegan, an assistive technology specialist, during a technology demo. Dr. Donegan saw that beyond gaze analysis, eye tracking computers could also be used for gaze control to benefit people with conditions that cause profound physical and verbal limitations. Eager to help him explore the concept further, Tobii sent Dr. Donegan a simple demo application to evaluate the technology’s potential as a communication aid.

That September, Dr. Donegan began working with Tobii programmer Kirk Ewing to create the interface for a gaze control system. Their effort resulted in the launch of the MyTobii D10, the first desktop eye gaze communication aid. A tablet version of the system, the MyTobii P10, soon followed. With the launch of its first eye gaze AAC system, the MyTobii P-Series, Tobii began to build an international presence and opened an office in the U.S. in 2004, Germany in 2007, and China and Japan the following year. North American expansion continued with the 2008 acquisition of Assistive Technology Inc., founded in 1983 by doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital who developed tools to help children with disabilities.

The DynaVox story

In 1983, Gary Kiliany, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University volunteering at the Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh, met a woman with cerebral palsy who couldn’t communicate verbally. With guidance from Professor Mark Friedman, Killiany created a device known as the EyeTyper that allowed the woman to compose and speak what she wanted to say. Killiany and Friedman teamed up with local businessman Tilden Bennett to form Sentient Systems Technology, Inc. They mass-produced and marketed three generations of the EyeTyper across the US, giving Americans with significant speech impairment the ability to communicate.

In 1991 they shipped the first DynaVox-branded products — communication aids that featured touch screens with dynamic displays. Two years later, the company introduced word and grammar prediction, allowing faster message composition. This touch-controlled technology would become DynaVox’s signature product.

In 1998 Sunrise Medical and Sentient Systems merged to become DynaVox Systems Inc. At that time, the traditional consumer of communication aids had evolved from school-age children with congenital physical conditions to include adult survivors of head injuries, strokes, and other accidents that left them without functional speech. DynaVox led a lobbying effort resulting in Medicare coverage for communication aids, a milestone that would prove beneficial to thousands of people.

Throughout the 2000s, DynaVox continued to set new industry standards for portable communication aids, including the launch of the EyeMax, a device that individuals could access through their eye movements.

Better together

Tobii Dynavox

Tobii Technology’s May 2014 acquisition of DynaVox merged two companies dedicated to raising the quality of life for people with communication and mobility challenges. By this time, Tobii had become well established as the leading provider of eye tracking-enabled devices for both communication and computer access for individuals with conditions such as ALS, Rett syndrome, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy. Simultaneously, DynaVox was the premier source of communication aids for speech, language, and learning challenges related to autism, aphasia, cerebral palsy, and other neurological disorders.

Global leader in assistive technology

The union of the two companies as Tobii Dynavox gave the new entity an even stronger geographic presence in existing and emerging markets around the globe.

Today Tobii Dynavox has offices in Sweden, the US, Norway, Germany, France, the UK, and China. Through its around 500 employees and a global network of reselling partners, it reaches thousands of people with disabilities, empowering them to engage more fully in life via technology.

Child using a Tobii Dynavox communication device to play with her friend