February 14, 2019. When you have hearing loss, you are always looking for something to help you hear. One of the problems so many of us have is trying to hear in a group situation. Pocket talkers are great for one to one conversations, or for hearing the television. A pocket talker is portable and doesn’t require an internet connection. It works on a long lasting battery and doesn’t need to be plugged in. However, a pocket talker is not great in group situations or a noisy environment as it picks up any sounds within its range.
Voice recognition software has been around for a few years, trying to give people with hearing loss an experience similar to closed captioning as we can see on TV, or through the use of subtitles on a DVD. Real time captioning is available for conferences and meetings, but what if you are a person on your own and want to be able to participate in a conversation? One program many of us tried is Live Caption. (See Who Knew Technology Was Our Friend?) It wasn’t perfect, but better than nothing.
So I was very interested when blog reader Jane Scott sent an email about a new application. “I was reading today about Google’s new LIVE TRANSCRIBE application for android phones that seems to do a pretty decent job of transcribing live speech to text. It looks very promising.”
Jane downloaded the app on her phone and tried it out, and gave her opinion on it. “Love the attachment! From limited use it does very well. Once on you get real time captioning. Easy Peasy. I do wonder whether it would work over a speaker phone. Anyway it’s cool…..”
The phrase ‘easy peasy’ did it for me, so I asked Tech Support (my husband) to download the app on my Android tablet. Not only was it free, but it was very easy to download and even easier to use. One of the tests I had was whether it would be able to transcribe what my husband, with his Dutch accent, said. Not a problem, it picked up every word both of us said.
Even better, the app has a choice of over 70 languages to use, and you can choose a primary language, English in our case, plus a secondary language. This gives you the flexibility to have a bilingual conversation.
We first tried it with English and Ukrainian, as I was curious to see if it would transcribe Cyrillic letters. It did. We then changed the secondary language to Dutch. It worked perfectly, as you can see in the photo below. One caution: You’ll note that it transcribes in the second language, it doesn’t translate.
The next test was to see how it did in a group and very noisy environment. I didn’t have high hopes, but to my surprise, it picked up the conversation at our table for four people during breakfast in a crowded and noisy hotel lobby and ignored the background noise. Wow! No more struggling to hear! I could follow the conversation on my tablet.
I asked a lady with a Ukrainian accent to try it out, and it captured her speech perfectly. Then I showed her how it worked in transcribing Ukrainian and she was amazed. Unfortunately she had an iPhone, so couldn’t download the app.
So, now a bit about the app, as explained on the website…. “It’s powered by Google’s speech recognition technology, so the captions adjust as your conversation flows. And since conversations aren’t stored on servers, they stay secure on your device. Live Transcribe is easy to use, anywhere you have a WiFi or network connection. It’s free to download on over 1.8B Android devices operating with 5.0 Lollipop and up.” So, it appears that your conversations don’t go into ‘the cloud’, which is good news. It also auto-corrects if it realizes that it has made an error.
Google explains that the app was developed in partnership with Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, “to make sure that Live Transcribe was helpful for everyday use.”
My opinion? Live Transcribe is FANTASTIC! I’m going to take my tablet to tonight’s Snowbird Valentine Dinner, another high decibel level event that makes hearing impossible. Want to try it for yourself? Here is the link: https://www.android.com/accessibility/live-transcribe/.
Please share your experience by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to email@example.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.
April Chapter meeting: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker Lisa Gallant, pharmacist and owner of South Shore Pharmacy, will talk about ototoxic drugs (drugs that affect your hearing).
Speech reading classes begin Spring 2019. To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Daria Valkenburg