In a world where communication is key, two Stanford and Yale students have embarked on a mission to break down barriers for people with hearing loss and the deaf community. Their innovation, TranscribeGlass, offers an affordable and wearable solution that transcribes spoken language in real time, ensuring no one is left out of the conversation.
Madhav Lavakare, CEO, and co-founder, was driven by a personal connection to this challenge when a close friend left school due to communication difficulties. He questioned why, in 2017, there wasn’t a more accessible solution to aid in inclusive conversations. Lavakare, alongside co-founder Tom Pritsky, initiated the development of TranscribeGlass to bridge this technological gap.
Starting with prototypes, the team collaborated with organizations like India’s National Association of the Deaf and deaf communities to refine their device. While facing barriers in securing support for their augmented reality (AR) solution, the duo’s dedication paid off when they gained backing from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and received funding from both the Indian and U.S. governments. Pritsky, who joined as a co-founder in 2021, brought a valuable hearing loss perspective to the project, driven by his appreciation for captions in movies and a desire to have them in real life.
TranscribeGlass acts as a conduit between affordable speech-to-text converters like Otter.ai and Google’s Live Transcribe, and a user-friendly pair of glasses. The device connects to these captioning tools via Bluetooth and then projects the text as augmented reality (AR) captions on the glasses lenses. Users can adjust the text size to their preference, allowing them to focus on their surroundings while still participating in conversations. This technology offers a breakthrough for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, enabling them to engage in diverse environments, including crowded spaces where conventional hearing aids might struggle.
The beta version of TranscribeGlass was priced at $55, and it’s expected to settle at $95 in the future. Throughout its development, over 300 individuals have tested the product, reflecting its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. This innovation demonstrates that equalizing access to communication is a noble pursuit, ensuring that no one is left out of the conversation.