SpeakSee, which is an Australian-founded speech-to-text startup designed to bring deaf and hard-of-hearing people back into conversations, has raised an amount of $107,660 which is $US80,000 roughly in US currency through crowdfunding in just 10 days.
Sydney-based designer Joshua Flowers tells StartupSmart SpeakSee was inspired by his grandad, who as a “late-deaf adult” was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with family conversations in a long run. For people like Flowers’s grandfather, deafness can be a “profoundly isolating experience and incredibly frustrating,” he says.
The SpeakSee system uses the technology of voice-to-text, translating words spoken in a group situation to an app on a phone or tablet. Different people in the conversation use different-coloured clip-on mics and the app displays each person’s comments in clearly which will defined coloured speech bubbles according to them. The startup launched its crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo on the 16th of June and raised more than $100,000 in its first 10 days, which gives them the smashing its $67,300 ($US50,000) target. At the time of writing, SpeakSee’s campaign has raised just more than $118,000 ($US87,700).
For people who “normally only hear 20% to 30% of the conversation,” Flowers says the SpeakSee device “increases comprehension dramatically”.
It was initially designed for use within a family context but the product “could also work well in a business context,” says Flowers.
Having started showcasing the product he has seen “lots of interested parties”, he adds. The company is also focusing more on the design part as well, with the SpeakSee product intended to be stylish and gadget-like, rather than medical.
The purpose here is to break down the stigma of hearing devices, moving away from flesh-coloured plastic hearing aids, which are “designed to be hidden away because they’re something to be ashamed of”, Flowers says.
“SpeakSee is designed to be fun, friendly and universal,” he says, adding that he wants people “not to feel embarrassed about using [it]”. “It looks beautiful and it’s easy to use,” Flowers adds.
The SpeakSee concept was born when Flowers was studying industrial design at the University of New South Wales. He spent a year designing the product and creating a working prototype, but after graduation he landed a job as an industrial designer in Denmark and halted work on SpeakSee.
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