Roger that: phone conversations for deaf people
“For most people, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” – Mary Pat Radabaugh
Have you ever imagined how it would be to have a telephone conversation with a deaf person? To me questions come to mind as: is it even possible to have a telephone conversation with a deaf person, how would we communicate and what are the possibilities for ‘calling’ a deaf person?
Well, I can tell you that there are not many possibilities for calling a deaf person. The most common solution is using a third party (like KPN Teletolk) who either types out the spoken text or uses a sign language interpreter to convert the spoken text into video. While both are indeed solutions, neither is effective, since they always require a third party and are not real-time.
So there are no possibilities for deaf people to have a real-time telephone conversation?
Guess again. There is a new start-up in town called RogerVoice, they developed an app which lets deaf people read what their correspondents say by sending instant live text transcriptions. The only thing that has to be done is install the app on a mobile device and run it while making a call, the beauty about is that only the audient disabled person has to install the app.
How does it work?
The technique behind RogerVoice is not new or innovative though. What they did is integrate automatic speech recognition into a VoIP platform, the latter already used by Skype and Viber, enabling them to convert speech to text within 100 milliseconds and eliminating the third party. Besides, the delay of 100 milliseconds is so minimal that the conversation is experienced as real-life. Regarding the profitability, -there are relatively not many deaf people worldwide, making it more a niche than mass targeted tool, the app is also very useful for people with hearing loss. Combining the two categories leads to a worldwide target market of approximately 360 million people, which then make me believe that the tool indeed has potential.
Having that said, my question to all is: what do you think about this application -is there market potential for this start-up, will this speech-to-text application result in a breakthrough in the telecom industry, or do think that there are other (more promising) industries in which the tool can be implemented?