Student invents program to let deaf people see speech in text bubbles

Written by on August 27, 2020

“Even teachers who are a little wary of hi-tech enjoyed it.”

Dalik Samkai presenting Blubbles to his classmates in the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, August 2020. (photo credit: DANIEL HANOCH)

Dalik Samkai presenting Blubbles to his classmates in the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, August 2020.

(photo credit: DANIEL HANOCH)

Visual Communication graduate Dalik Samkai, who was diagnosed with hearing loss when he was 17 years old, decided to use the skills he acquired at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design to create Blubbles, an augmented reality (AR) solution that allows people to see the faces of those around them and read their spoken words as if they were text balloons in a comic strip.“My dad also suffers from hearing loss and wears a hearing aid,” Samkai said. “I saw him not being able to keep track of the conversation during Shabbat meals and thought to myself, hey, there’s nothing wrong with his vision, right?”Blubbles is built on a Google Application Programming Interface (API), which allows the program to recognize human speech and offer a text version of it. While he was bouncing around ideas with friends, Samkai thought of combining that tool with facial recognition. This allows people using Blubbles at the dinner table or in a classroom to follow everything as they read it in a bubble.While the program is not perfect and contains spelling mistakes, the concept worked when Samkai presented it as his graduation thesis a few weeks ago. Blubbles is shown at the current students’ projects exhibition at the academy.“Everybody liked the idea of a technical solution that offers help,” he said. “Even teachers who are a little wary of hi-tech enjoyed it.”“Society looks at glasses as fashionable but sees hearing aids as a sign of disability, which is wrong,” Samkai said. “So I thought, why not solve a hearing problem in a visual way? After all, 64% of those who are hard of hearing are unhappy with their hearing aids. I myself didn’t want to wear one in the past because of the stigma.”“The AR solution is not meant to replace hearing aids,” he said. “It’s meant to offer one more option in case they aren’t enough.” cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: ’36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b’ }).render(‘4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6’); });Readers who wish to learn more about Blubbles can contact Dalik Samkai at: daliksamkai@gmail.com

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