According to a February 4th Fortune report, Google is rolling out two new Android apps to help people with hearing loss.
The first, Live Transcribe, gives persons with hearing loss text-to-speech capabilities, thus providing real-time captions for conversations that scroll on the Android users’ phones. Live Transcribe will gradually roll out in a limited test to users worldwide.
The second, Sound Amplifier, requires users wear headphones, and amplifies the volume of incoming speech and music.
Sound Amplifier became available February 4th for Android 9 or newer phones through Google’s Play Store. Pixel 3 phones come equipped with both products.
Last year, Google introduced Lookout, an app that helps people with visual impairments by providing auditory cues to help them understand their environment. Lookout also leverages 50 million local guides, who contributed accessibility information for more than 40 million places on Google Maps.
Google’s Live Transcribe App
For the Live Transcribe app, Google partnered with Gallaudet University. Live Transcribe works with 70 languages, some with multiple dialects, and visually indicates the volume of the person speaking. This helps users know at what volume they should respond.
One of the researchers who worked on and helped test Live Transcribe was Dimitri Kanevsky, a Google employee who has nearly 300 U.S. patents, invented the world’s first Internet transcription services for deaf users, and also created the first voice recognition system in Russian.
A video of the new Live Trascribe app can be seen below:
Google’s Sound Amplifier App
The other app, Sound Amplifier, initially revealed at the Google I/O developer conference last year, is not only helpful to persons with mild hearing loss, but also people who are having trouble hearing in noisy places like in a loud bar.
The app, when combined with wired headphones essentially works in a manner similar to a body-worn hearing aid, has two sliders, “boost” and “fine tuning,” to zero in on the sounds the user wants to hear. It also gives users the ability to adjust the amount of background noise that is audible.
I’m impressed by the app so far. Seems to work well. It’s a relief that Google is getting into this market. I’m hoping it increases the pace of innovation.