AR Glasses Allow Deaf People to “See” Conversations
A revolutionary pair of glasses lets people who are deaf and hard of hearing put subtitles on their everyday conversations. Called XRAI Glass, the eyewear takes audio collected from the built-in microphone and converts it to text that is projected on the lenses for the wearer, effectively allowing them to read conversations in real time.
The XRAI Glass company collaborated with augmented reality firm Nreal to harness the power of their existing AR glasses and use translation software that can be downloaded onto any smartphone.
Commenting on the release of this breakthrough invention, XRAI Glass CEO Dan Scarfe says, “We are so proud of the ability this innovative technology has to enrich the lives of people who are deaf and have hearing loss, so that they can maximize potential. Whether that means being able to have a conversation while continuing to make dinner or keeping a conversation going while walking with a friend. The scale of the opportunity is huge.”
Scarfe got the inspiration for the glasses after watching his grandfather struggle to keep up with conversations at family gatherings. “There was just a little epiphany moment where I thought, ‘Hang on a second. He watches TV all the time with subtitles. Why can’t we subtitle the world?’”
The idea is already receiving rave reviews from deaf and hard of hearing advocacy groups. “This is a great example of the positive difference innovative technology can make for people who are deaf or have hearing loss,” says Mark Atkinson, CEO of RNID, a British hearing loss charity. “At RNID we are excited about the potential for technology to transform the lives of our communities. XRAI glass is intuitive and simple to use and could be a powerful tool in ensuring people with hearing loss don’t feel excluded in social settings. We support and applaud this endeavor and are keen to play our part in connecting innovators with our diverse communities.”
Steve Crump, the founder and chair of DeafKidz International, personally attests to the viability of XRAI Glass. “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. I see XRAI Glass as a hugely positive force, and I can’t wait to work with the team to help bring this to life.”
He adds: “To me, this technology enables me to be involved. It empowers…me to be in the conversation in the moment. I’m getting a real-time stream of subtitled information where ordinarily I might be behind. I might not quite catch everything, but this is giving me a real-time narrative which … enables me to make decisions because I know what is being said.”
The product is initially launching only in the United Kingdom, where there are more than 12 million adults affected by deafness or hearing loss. If successful, the glasses and app could have global implications, as it ‘s estimated that more than 5 percent of the world’s population, or 430 million people, suffer from disabling hearing loss, including 70 million suffering from full-blown deafness. XRAI Glass is currently working to develop software that could also translate any language.