Deaf people and others who have trouble hearing are constantly finding themselves in situations in which communicating with other fellow humans is a challenge. Gesturing and writing things down on paper is simple, but slow and frustrating. Google, a part of Alphabet, is hoping to change that with a couple new tools that will be part of its Android operating system.
Live Transcribe is, as the name implies, a real-time transcription app that convert’s the voice of a person you’re speaking to into text. It was developed with the help of Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. The app works in more seventy different languages, an impressive achievement, and it will certainly give Google a new way to be able to peek into the private lives of people around the world.
The second of the latest offerings from Google is something called Sound Amplifier. It is a series of settings that will be found within Android that will allow users to “filter, augment, and amplify the sounds in your environment,” according to the company. It’s used along with a pair of headphones, through which the user listens to the environment, as processed by a bunch of algorithms that one can tune to achieve the best outcome. The idea is to boost quiet sounds while leaving loud sounds as they are, normalizing the sound range and making everything sound a bit better.
This is certainly not a replacement for a pair of hearing aids, but the technology will probably be beneficial to millions of people. Since these are free offerings from Google, it’s certainly possible that many people that can’t afford hearing aids will end up using these new technologies and others like it from other vendors.
Both Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier are to be available through the Google Play Store for free, while those using Apple iPhones will have to wait as there isn’t any indication the same will be available on that platform.