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Company MD Paul Hawes, Matthew using eye gaze and Karen, his teacher.
Paul Hawes, Matthew and Karen

Our Managing Director, Paul Hawes, takes us through the Smartbox journey, from our first adapted device, to launching our latest generation of award winning software.

My involvement in Assistive Technology goes back to 1977 when two engineer friends and I created the first European DCT (Deaf Communicating Terminal).  This was the Vistel, which allowed deaf people to type conversations over the phone.  It seemed revolutionary at the time!

I then worked as a consultant on a government project helping deaf people to use email, long before the days of public Internet access.  After this project I joined a small charity (later to become AbilityNet) which adapted personal computers for people with disabilities.

The sensory software office in 2004
Humble beginnings, 2004

It was during this time that I became interested in AAC and the huge impact that the lack of communication had on people’s lives.  Sensory Software was born and in the evenings I worked on early software like Winspeak, Windbag and HandsOff.  This culminated in a Computing Magazine award for excellence and interest in the software from some of the major assistive technology companies in the US and Europe.

It was time to take the plunge and in the year 2000, on July 4th (Independence Day), I left my AbilityNet job to run Sensory Software from a spare bedroom.

Smartbox staff with balloons that spell out Smartbox.
We setup Smartbox, 2007

In 2006 we decided to setup Smartbox to concentrate on complete systems instead of just the software.  Smartbox was our UK reseller, while Sensory Software continued to build a highly skilled programming team capable of producing truly world class software.

Eight years later, Smartbox had become a leading player in assistive technology in the UK, and our tablet-based communication aids with The Grid were selling worldwide through the Sensory Software dealer network.  We decided it was time to merge the two companies under the Smartbox banner.

The Smartbox team in 2015
The Smartbox Team and families, 2015

It has been thrilling to be involved in such an exciting industry from the start and a real privilege to work with so many talented and dedicated people.

Paul Hawes

Managing Director

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