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Say ‘Hello’ to crystal clear audio with two new Google apps

Feb 4, 2019, 3:00 pm

Technology has been the key to revolutionizing the lives of millions across the globe, shaping our lives and easing it out for us, and how. Diseases, impairments, and health hazards have been alleviated considerably over the years, thanks to steady advancements in medical science and technology. The condition of hearing loss, one such problem, is estimated to affect 900 million people by the year 2055, as per an estimate by the World Health Organization. In joining the bandwagon is doing its bit to help the situation, two new apps for Android are to be launched which are designed to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people. The apps are Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier.

Transforming captions to conversations with Live Transcribe

The inception of the Live Transcribe app can be traced back to the story of Dimitri Kanevsky, a research scientist at Google who has worked on speech recognition and communications technology for the last 30 years, have consequently come up with accessibility technologies that address his own hearing impairment since his early childhood. The first one is called CART, which is a service enabling the captioner to virtually join a meeting to listen and take down a transcription of spoken dialogue, which then will flash up on the computer screen. However, on the downside, the use of the service was limited only to formal business meetings/events and not the broader spectrum of everyday conversations as it was expensive, required a lot of preparation for each meeting and Dmitri have to carry multiple devices, as spotted by his teammate, Chet Gnegy.

Live TranscribeSpurred to come up with a solution, Chet worked in tandem with the Accessibility team to build a tool that could reduce Dimitri’s effort spent preparing for conversations, bringing in the mechanism of cloud-based automatic speech recognition to display spoken words on a screen. Following up, a prototype was built, bringing on board lots of Googlers and voila, Live Transcribe saw the light of the day as a bright new app that transforms real-world speech into real-time captions by only using the phone’s microphone.

Zeroing in on the positives of Live Transcribe, if people who are deaf or hard of hearing greater independence in their everyday interactions, like Dmitri who has been brought closer to his loved ones independently. Moreover, as per Google, partners at Gallaudet University, the world’s premier university for deaf and hard of hearing people, (who helped in the design and validation of the utility of Live Transcribe for the needs of their community) have also nodded their approval of the service by dint of positive feedback.

Adding to its strengths, Live Transcribe is available in over 70 languages and dialects, allows two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who can’t or don’t want to speak, and gets connected with external microphones to improve transcription accuracy, which is sure to make conversations transpire more efficiently for the users.

The usage procedure is simple too, you just have to enable it in Accessibility Settings and then start Live Transcribe from the accessibility button on the navigation bar, and you’re good to go.

Live Transcribe will gradually roll out in a limited beta to users worldwide via the Play Store and pre-installed on Pixel 3 devices from today and interested users can sign up to keep a tab on the updates.

Enhanced sound clarity with Sound Amplifier

For the millennials out there, we all have heard the popular Hannah Montana song ‘Make Some Noise’. But what-to-do in those instances when we want to filter the background noise (like an airport lounge or loud restaurant) and make only our own noise? Google has come up with the answer to it today as it will launch the Sound Amplifier, in line with its announcement at Google I/O last year.

Sound Amplifier SettingAs the name suggests, the app Sound Amplifier will enhance the audio clarity substantially, enabling a whole lot of options such as using it on one’s Android smartphone with wired headphones to filter, augment and amplify the sounds in one’s immediate environment, increasing quiet sounds while keeping loud sounds toned down and so on. Impressively, the user can have access to customized sound enhancement settings and can apply noise reduction to reduce distracting background noise with simple sliders and toggles, and by the sound of it, this app is just what the millennial population needs to help sketch and hold up the ‘world’ of their own, with its exclusive sounds and sights and perceptions.

Hurry up and get your grab at the Play Store. There’s good news for Android 9 Pie or later phone users as the app is compatible with these versions. Pixel 3 users shall find it pre-installed on their phones.

With both these two apps launched today, Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier, Google takes a big step ahead towards its goal of reaching out to ‘the hundreds of millions of people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate more clearly’, and as for us, it’s an appreciative shout-out to the team to keep going on in its wonderful initiative.

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