Technology Innovations

Posts Tagged ‘Language


Bangalore-based Dhananjai Bajpai, 24, is using the gesture-recognition technology to develop Kommunic8, a wireless wearable device that converts hand motions into speech. The device holds promise of improving communication for over 19 lakh speech-disabled people in India alone. A pilot project is currently being done with EnAble India, Bangalore, to test the functioning and accuracy of the device in the hands of actual users.

Dhananjai, who belongs to Kanpur city of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India, has completed his Bachelor’s in Electronics and Communication Technology degree from Shri Ramswaroop Memorial College of Engineering and Management, Lucknow, UP. He works at KFX Circuits and Systems in Bangalore and is also associated with Excubator, a startup incubator and corporate venturing advisory organization, where he works on Kommunic8 in his spare time. His aim is to use gesture-recognition technology for social benefit.

According to the 2011 Census of India, of the 268+ lakh total disabled population about 19+ lakh people suffer from speech disability. This population struggles not only in communicating with their surrounding environment, but also faces low job prospects that lead to another fight for quality sustenance. Kommunic8 aims to enable this populace to “talk” with anyone without any hesitation. 

Challenges

One of the challenges in bridging the divide between the speech-impaired and the common folks is that the sign language is difficult for a common man to understand and is restricted to the speech and hearing disabled community. Also, there is no standard international sign language that is followed consistently across the globe – each region and culture has its local sign language. These reasons prevent the differently-abled to communicate with others and live their social and professional life normally.

Kommunic8 equips the speech-impaired with a lightweight, wireless wearable ring-shaped device that can convert their sign language gestures into reasonable sentences in real-time and provide output in the form of an audible speech as well as a readable text on the K8 smartphone app.

With 97 percent accuracy and self-learning capability, the current prototype of Kommunic8 can be customized and programmed for any local language.

How it works

Kommunic8 is still in the development phase. Dhananjai began working on the technology in 2013, as a final year project, by creating a wearable glove which could detect the degree of bending of fingers and show respective alphabets on a mobile phone screen as per the American Sign Language. That was just the beginning which got its fair share of media attention. However, the wearable glove had its shortcomings in terms of size, speed, cost, and usability.

 

Initial prototype of Kommunic8

Initial prototype of Kommunic8

The current prototype of Kommunic8 uses a small circuitry packed neatly inside a ring like structure. The circuit uses gesture algorithm and a motion sensor that recognizes the sign and orientation of the user’s hand on which the device is worn. When the user moves or bends his/her hand to make a gesture, the sensor collects information and the software processes it to convert data into a sentence. The sentence is then spoken by a mechanized voice that is made audible through an inbuilt speaker. The same output can be presented in the form of a text on the K8 smartphone app.

The device operates on inbuilt battery that lasts for 10 hours – Dhananjai is working on increasing the battery power to last up to 24 hours. The device can be charged by any micro-USB charger.

The initial device will come with 50 actions predefined for ready use. The software, however, uses machine learning and will keep updating the database of gestures and sentences as the user starts using Kommunic8 regularly. Speaking of the storage capacity, Dhananjai says, “For now, Kommunic8 will come with a memory of 2 GB which can store up to 3,000 actions. This is sufficient, as on average a user may use maximum 100-300 actions in general. However, there is a provision for users to update the dictionary by connecting the device to a computer and make changes through the K8 desktop app.”

The device is supported by the K8 app available for Android and Windows phones that can be used to display the text, configure the device, recreate database and produce the speech output for interactions.  Here is a demo video.

 

 

Next steps

There is still a lot to accomplish before a market-ready version of Kommunic8 is complete. 

Dhananjai has filed a provisional patent for the technology innovation.

Now he is primarily focused on drastically improving the aesthetics of the device and using a more human voice output instead of the mechanized one. He is also working on including a small screen in the device with four push-buttons that can be used to reconfigure, expand and delete the database on-the-go, thereby removing the need for a secondary device for any kind of updates or assistance. 

Meanwhile, Dhananjai is reaching out to non-government organizations that might be willing to support pilot projects and provide sponsorship for further improvement of the device.

EnAble India is using Kommunic8 to:

  • Help teachers learn and improve their sign language and make classroom learning more attractive
  • Empower EnAble associated speech-impaired employees to use Kommunic8 for their daily communication at work.

“Results from the pilot will help me improve the device for the users. I am hopeful that Kommunic8 will allow them to get front-end jobs,” says Dhananjai.

Dhananjai can be contacted at dhananjaisrmgpc@gmail.com and +91-8765379454.

 

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A Bangalore based startup, Apptarix has recently launched TeleTango, a social TV network for Indian television.

TeleTango converts TV viewing from a one-way media to multi-way interaction channel.  With TeleTango, TV viewers can check what their friends are watching or what’s hot on TV, join friends in a show for a group chat, post opinion in Facebook and Twitter and interact with the program through opinion polls, voting and commentary in sync with the program. TeleTango also provides a platform for the TV broadcasters to host and feed the complementary digital content such as trivia, gossip, exclusive picture, opinion polls and voting in sync with live TV program. Read more to find out what differentiates TeleTango from its competitors. 


Getting a cab in Indian metro cities is a tough task. It’s even harder in India’s financial capital – Mumbai, Maharashtra, because there are fewer of them plying the streets. For Mumbai’s 15 million populace, there are just 60,000 taxis available.

A Mumbai-based startup Olacabs has devised a clever technology in hope of closing the gap between India’s infrastructure issues and providing a cab more reliably than its peers. It gives each of its drivers an Android phone to take bookings. And each phone is enabled with an Olacabs application that helps to form a live heatmap of traffic in the cities, and notify the driver of the jams.

The booking information is also crunched by Olacabs to help predict taxi demand ahead of time, and sends more drivers out to areas expecting bookings so that they can respond to online bookings sooner. The company has also built its own mapping layer over Google Maps that has been translated to local dialects for drivers. Founded in January 2011, Olacabs currently operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. Read more


Bangalore-based startup Plustxt has designed a messaging application that not only offers an alternative to standard text messaging, but also allows users to do so in regional language.

Pratyush Prasanna, co-founder of Plustxt Mobile Solutions, is of the view that conventional messaging will soon be redundant. “For the amount of data used for sending an sms, the charges are exorbitant,” says the 32-year-old IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Calcutta graduate who earlier worked with Microsoft, startup venture Gupshup and Xerox. “With increased penetration of smart phones and data there are other ways to communicate.”

In January, the company launched two apps on the Android platform: Plustxt, an English-language messaging app similar to the globally popular Whatsapp, and Plustxt India, which allows users to communicate in eight regional languages. Within months, the apps have recorded 60,000 downloads encouraging Prasanna and his team to work on versions for other platforms like Apple’s iOS and Nokia’s Symbian.

The regional language app, which the company is focusing on, allows users to combine English with a vernacular language. The user can type out with the regular mobile keyboard and the app transliterates the word to the chosen local language and English. The app is integrated with SMS so an app to app message will be sent over data, but a sms will be sent if the recipient has not downloaded the app. Read more in this report by Radhika P Nair.


Besides sharing images of characters from their favourite shows, or photographs of places, now here’s a new platform for users of social media to share their photographs and opinions on clothing, accessories and food.

A Bangalore-based company, founded by Arjun Zacharia, Praveen Rajaretnam, Soumen Sarkar and Ankit Sabharwal, former employees of McAfee, has launched Wooplr as a social discovery platform for users who wish to share their images of finds and bargains from local stores.

Wooplr is about helping people discover products from brick-and-mortar stores or flea-market brands — those we might not ever hear of if someone didn’t tell us about them. Currently, there is no platform where Indian shoppers can find genuine shopping/eating recommendations with visuals and share their shopping finds or find out what their friends are buying and from where, says Rajaretnam.

When a Wooplr user sees an attractive piece of clothing or a stylish accessory, s/he tags a photo of it on the platform, with a note on where the item was purchased and for how much. This allows those with similar tastes to take notes for their next shopping trip. Read more in this news report by Shrabonti Bagchi on why do users need something like this when there already are so many social media platforms for sharing visual content.


Zack Chia - Apple is Black

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at PM 12.19.20

 

This is really a cool idea that would help in avoiding a collision. In an effort to reduce physical traffic signage and accidents, light show company Laservision are experimenting using a sheet of water with light laser projecting on it. This is done up at the Sydney Harbour Tunnel with more available in the city as well. The good thing about having such signage is the fact that it literally catches your attention. If the driver fails to notice it, he could still drive through it without heading into a collision. These pop-up signs has started off since 2007 and has therefore successfully prevented vehicles from turning into unintended traffic. I could see more of this being used in other parts of the world. In Singapore water sheet projection is used primarily for visual aesthetics. One example is the foundation of wealth in Suntec city where people had their…

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Sumit Dagar, a graduate from the National Institute of Design (NID), is developing the world’s first smartphone for the blind. The phone will have a unique and unconventional screen featuring Braille, to aid the visually impaired.

The phone has pins on the screen, which surface up on the display and go down depending on the user’s choices. Something known as Shape Memory Alloy technology is being used which works on the simple logic that metals revert to their original shape after being pressed. Braille patterns will be formed with the pins, helping blind users comprehend with touch.

The idea is being funded by Rolex Awards, which funds five talented innovators once in two years under its Young Laureates Programme. Read more


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