App turns a smartphone into a speech translator for the deaf

Even deaf people who excel at lip reading need a bit of help when it comes to meetings or group conversations. The developers of a new app called Transcense claim it's the hearing impaired's answer to understanding hard-to-follow chit-chats where everybody's talking almost all at once. How? Well, Transcense can translate speech into written words and transcribe it on screen in near real time. To make that possible, the app connects to several phones and activates their mics to capture what everyone's saying, then it uses voice recognition to assign each person in the group a color for their speech bubbles. Also, the user can ask the program to speak for him using a digital voice or get everyone's attention through the app when he wants to say something.

The software's currently in private beta for Android devices, but its developers (including one who's deaf and another born into a deaf family) have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise 25 grand for its continued development. They hope to use to use the money to create an iOS and a web version, in order for more people (both the deaf and their friends/co-workers) to be able to use it. If the crowdfunding campaign succeeds and the program becomes available, it'll cost $360 per year unless you pledge $150 for a year-long membership on Indiegogo now.

Transcense joins other ongoing projects and products already out on the market meant to help make communication easier for the hearing impaired. These include MotionSavvy, a gesture control-enabled tablet that can translate sign language, and SpeechTranslate, an app similar to Transcense meant for Windows mobile devices.