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Google’s Release of Two Apps for the Hearing Impaired Is the Feel-Good Tech Story We All Need

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Google’s Release of Two Apps for the Hearing Impaired Is the Feel-Good Tech Story We All Need

One of the world's largest technology companies wants to make sure everyone can hear them loud and clear.

· Agile Zone ·
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Image titleLet’s be honest, most tech stories that come out these days are more likely to result in a Xanax prescription than a glowing reaffirmation of mankind’s magnanimity. Devastating security breaches are about as old hat now as dishonest politicians, and too much screen time is, of course, turning our children into illiterate zombies. The apocalypse, it seems, is here.

But something interesting popped up in my news feed this morning that actually gave me a glimmer of hope: Google just launched two new apps that will help the deaf and hard of hearing communicate better in a world that is, at least until now, not really made for them.

This is an absolute gamechanger for the 466 million people worldwide who have had to muddle through conversations their whole lives gleaning only 30 percent of what’s actually being communicated. Despite the persistent misbelief that the deaf are master lip readers, this is an incredibly difficult skill to acquire and even in the most ideal scenarios garners no more than 50 percent comprehension.

Here’s a quick test for you: Little Moving Pictures put out a fantastic video a few years back called Can You Read My Lips? that poignantly makes this point. (In case you don’t care for videos that make you take a long, honest look at the preconceived notions you, of course, would never have, the answer to their question is no.)


This is exactly why it’s so refreshing that Google is introducing Live Transcribe, an app that uses cloud-based automatic speech recognition to transcribe conversation in real time right on the user’s Android phone, and Sound Amplifier, an app that allows the user to adjust various sound metrics so that they can hear conversations no matter the background noise.

According to the World Health Organization, there will be 900 million hearing-impaired people in the world by the year 2055. Apps like Live Transcribe could thus mean that millions of people will never have to know the pain of people like Rachel Kolb. (You really should have watched the video.)

Apocalypse averted.

Topics:
dev life ,google ,accessibility ,live transcribe ,sound amplifier

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