Innovation Enables Deaf People to ‘See’ Conversations

Enriching lives by subtitling the world.

Innovation Enables Deaf People to ‘See’ Conversations | Enriching lives by subtitling the world.

A new and exciting innovation will enable deaf people to see conversations in real time. Using augmented reality (AR) glasses and a smartphone, deaf and hearing impaired people will soon be able to participate and engage in conversations.

XRAI glasses were developed by Dan Scarfe after he spent Christmas dinner with his family, according to Euronews. Scarfe saw his 97-year-old hearing-impaired grandfather sitting alone in silence while the rest of the family were animated in conversation.

The eureka moment
His eureka moment came when he remembered his grandfather watching closed-caption TV and realized that AR glasses could be used for subtitles. “It's just so difficult when there are so many people around you and you're trying to keep track of the different conversations which are going on,” Scarfe told Euronews.

Scarfe got to work, partnering with Nreal, an augmented reality glasses manufacturer. Six months later, the team unveiled xrai glass. The glasses are connected to a smartphone that receives the audio from a microphone, processes it, and then uses software technology to transform it into closed captions.

The company is now testing the glasses in the UK and hopes to complete their pilot in September, 2022, according to xrai glass. Participants need to first own a pair of NReal Air glasses to do the trial.

The UK was selected as a testing ground as over 13 million adults in Britain have hearing loss, reports yahoo!news. However, when the product goes global, it could transform the lives of some 430 million people. This represents 5 percent of the world’s population and includes 70 million people with total hearing loss.

Game changer for the hearing-impaired community
This is a game changer for the deaf and is applauded by hearing loss charity RNID and DeafKidz International. Mark Atkinson of RNID wore them, telling yahoo!news, “As a profoundly deaf person myself, I was blown away by this technology. When I tried on the glasses, I was astonished – real-time subtitles that enable you to engage and participate as never before.”

Easy to use, xrai smart glasses will offer connection and participation within the hearing world for those who have hearing loss. This is also empowering for deaf people as it enables them to make decisions in real time.

For Scarfe and his startup, this is only the beginning. After the beta testing, xrai will work with users’ feedback, hoping to make the product available to the public in September, 2022, reports Euronews. He also envisions using smart glasses to translate languages, understand accents, pitch, and voice tones, according to Fox32 Chicago.

This is transformational for so many people. Turning audio into subtitles may soon enable those with hearing loss to reconnect and laugh together with family at gatherings. “Why can’t we subtitle the world?” Scarfe told yahoo!news.

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