Technology Innovations

Posts Tagged ‘Speech


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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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


The market for sweetly named smart-phone assistants is heating up, as Siri, Apple’s iPhone-based virtual helper, just got a new “frenemy” named Evi. Created by True Knowledge, a Cambridge, U.K.-based semantic technology startup, Evi, like Siri, can answer questions posed aloud in a conversational manner. But unlike Siri, which is only loaded on the latest iPhone, Evi is available as an app for the iPhone and phones running Google’s Android software. Read more


A world memory champion and a neuroscientist have joined forces to create a language-learning website called Memrise, which combines mnemonic tricks with a game to help users learn quickly and efficiently. Memrise makes learning a game with virtual gardens that users must tend. As they do, they also earn points and thereby fight their way up a community-wide leaderboard. Read more


For a minute, just try and recollect when you heard proper, formal, nice English sentences in your conversation? I doubt it was recent. There is nothing like “proper” English these days. We hardly think about our usage of words or pick them consciously. Gone are the days when people used to pay attention to using strictly formal or proper English and grammar for writing letters and in official communication. Nowadays sms English is in and slang fill the mailbox.

 

Even when some of us do stick to speaking good English, we tend to get superfluous and use too many words in place of one. And that has a place in dictionary:

 

Tautology: a statement in which you say the same thing twice in different words, when this is unnecessary, for example ‘They spoke in turn, one after the other.’ 

Pleonasm: (technical) the use of more words than are necessary to express a meaning. For example, ‘see with your eyes’ is a pleonasm because the same meaning can be expressed using ‘see’.

 

We are so used to pleonasm that we don’t even realize using or listening to it. We often use extra vocabulary either to emphasize our point or to show good communication skills, whereas it reflects the opposite. 

Following are some common groups of words which can be replaced by a single word in our speech as well as writings.

 

A large proportion of

many

Absolutely essential 

essential

Added bonus

bonus

Advance warning 

warning

At this moment

now

Attach together

attach

By virtue of the fact that

because

Close proximity

close

Close scrutiny

scrutiny

Collaborate together

collaborate

Combine together

combine

Consensus of opinion

consensus

Exact replica

replica

Exactly the same

the same

Free gift

gift

Future plans

plans

In conjunction with

and

In order to

to

In the absence of

without

In the event that

if

In the field of biology

in biology

Minute detail

detail

Most unique

unique

New innovation

innovation

Oblong in shape

oblong

Patently obvious

obvious

Personal opinion

opinion

Placed under arrest

arrested

Prior experience

experience

Prior to

before

Razed to the ground

razed

Red in colour

red

Revert back

revert

Shorter in length

shorter

Subsequent to

after

Successful achievement

achievement

Sum total

sum

Surrounded on all sides

surrounded

Temporary reprieve

reprieve

Tiny speck 

speck

Unexpected surprise

surprise

Very urgent

urgent

Was of the opinion that

thought

With the exception of

except

 

If you wish, you can add your examples in comment.


English is a funny language, undoubtedly. It is difficult too for some of us who are not native English speakers and have adopted it as our second language. Over the years, while working with different professionals I have observed that many of us still find English language confusing, especially when we have to deal with homophones (words that are spelled differently but are pronounced alike) and/or homographs (words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently).

Referring to such troublesome words, Don Phillipson, a Canadian member of an online language forum, said: “This is what North American newspapermen call ‘eluders,’ listed and discussed in The Canadian Press Style Book.

My discussion with some English language experts brought up a few common words that confuse many people in their day to day use of English language – in writing and speech, at work and in their private conversations.

“I think everyone has some spellings that are bugbears for them. For instance, I know how to spell ‘friend’, but whenever I write it something in my brain says, ‘that rhymes with ‘fiend’; it can’t be right,’ and if I am in a hurry I’ll sometimes change it to ‘freind’, which then looks very wrong to me,” said Dave Hatunen, member of the online group.

Another member, John Kane cited self example: “I consistently have to rewrite ‘wierd’ to ‘weird’, and it still looks wrong. Same with ‘guarantee’ ¾  I always try ‘gaurantee’ first. I have also had trouble all my life with -ent/-ant words, usually picking the wrong spelling first.”

One of my friends, a successful HR executive and businesswoman, said she finds “principal” and “principle” highly confusing. “I find ‘practice’ and ‘practise’ more problematic because I use them almost every day and it’s tough to figure out which one to use the one with ‘c’ or ‘s’,” she said.

“One of the most commonly misspelled words as spelled by otherwise good spellers is, in my experience, ‘aperture’. It often gets spelled and pronounced ‘aperature’,” said Bob Cunningham of the language forum.

Another group member said, “Wednesday. I still get it wrong (Wedensday), it’s a habit I have thus far found impossible to break. I’ve never pronounced it like ‘Wed Ness Day,’ or thought about it like that, or even known I was wrong until well into adulthood. I don’t recall ever been corrected (except by MS Word!).”

My confusing words would be: intention, millennium, and hassle.

My friend Saras, executive administrator at a magazine office, often gets confused in “advice”, “advise”, “whether”, and “weather”.

“If you ask me, I’ll say the entire English language is confusing. I have a long list of words that confuse me when I have to write emails, invitations, letters, newsletters, brochures and press releases on a daily basis. For example, I always write ‘table’ as ‘tabel’ first. Then ‘their,’ ‘there,’ ‘principal,’ and ‘principle’ put me into trouble all the time. I wish I didn’t have to write in English at all,” says Tabu, events manager of a media group in Bangalore.

The purpose of citing these quotes is to show that it is common to make mistakes in English language and those of us who find it difficult shouldn’t underestimate our capability to improve on it consciously. To make things easier, here are a few examples of some common troublesome words with their meanings:

HOMOPHONES: WORDS SPELLED DIFFERENTLY BUT PRONOUNCED ALIKE

Chord: (music) two or more notes played together; (mathematics) straight line that joins two points on a curve
Cord: strong thick string or thin rope

Complement: to add to something in a way that improves it
Compliment: a remark that expresses praise or admiration of somebody

Loose: not firmly fixed where it should be; able to become separated from something
Lose: to be unable to find something/somebody; to have something/somebody taken away from you

Read more examples

HOMOGRAPHS: WORDS SPELLED THE SAME BUT PRONUNCIATION AND/OR MEANINGS DIFFER

Bow     : The act of bending your head or the upper part of your body forward in order to say hello or goodbye to somebody or to show respect

: A knot with two loops and two loose ends which is used for decoration on clothes, in hair, etc. or for tying shoes

Content : The amount of a substance that is contained in something else; (computing) the information or other material contained on a website or CD-ROM

              : Happy and satisfied with what you have

Lead    : To go with or in front of a person or an animal to show the way or to make them go in the right direction; guide

: A chemical element Lead is a heavy soft grey metal, used especially in the past for water pipes or to cover roofs

Read more examples

WORDS THAT SPELL ERROR!

Accommodation not Accomodation
Foreign not Foriegn
Friend not Freind or Fiend
Guarantee not Gaurantee
Hassle not Hassel
Intention not Intension
Professional not Proffesional
Pronunciation not Pronounciation
Received not Recieved
Table not Tabel
Weird not Wierd

TEXT TWIST

Effect: a change that something/somebody causes in something/somebody else; a result
Affect: to produce a change in something/something

Forward: towards a place or position that is in front
Foreword: a short introduction at the beginning of a book

Moral: concerned with principles of right and wrong behaviour
Morale: the amount of confidence and enthusiasm, etc. that a person or a group has at a particular time

Read more examples

THE FUNNY SIDE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE

IrelandOn-line
Funny Errors

Source: All word meanings have been taken from Oxford Dictionary


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