Many of you reading this post hear and speak as one of your basic senses that help you to effortlessly talk to a pharmacist about your prescription, or to talk to your friendly mobile phone representative about the latest options for upgrading. These benign interactions that come so naturally for you are a totally different experience for people who cannot hear or use spoken language, or who have lost their hearing. Many deaf people learn sign language – another language equally recognized in cognitive brain function as spoken language. It’s a visual language unto itself. For as many spoken languages in the world, there are the same sign languages. Both are rooted in legacy cultures and vary from region to region.
Think about this: technology today allows us to automatically translate spoken language decently. There are ear-buds, for example, that allow for translation between people having face to face conversations in different languages, or translation technology for websites in other languages. Advancements in automating natural language processing and using artificial intelligence technologies make this happen.
Solutions for recognizing sign language, however, have relied on human resources in various forms: physical interpreters, interpreters through video, and other types of use of humans to recognize and translate sign language. Dependency on professional interpreters or family and friends is a tough way to have a conversation about your medical condition with your pharmacist, or buying a new phone and maybe adding other family members to your plan. Simply, we humans are not scalable. Sure, texting has taken on its own value in replacing pen & paper, but these types of conversations are hard to have with typing, or writing.
KinTrans Inc. has created a technology platform that facilitates these types of conversations by using artificial intelligence in a new way to recognize this full body movement language, and any sign language in the world. KinTrans’ chat solution is designed for the business environment in the immediate term to improve communication with Deaf customers at points of sale and service areas. The chat solution translates signs into voice and voice into signs in real time. This functionality allows the Deaf to realize independence and businesses to realize new value creating opportunities from this large market segment.
KinTrans and Microsoft: Joining Forces for Inclusion
Microsoft has been an integral part of KinTrans’ development, embedded at various steps along the way. From using the Microsoft Kinect 3D depth camera to providing hosting credits on Azure through BizSpark Plus, Microsoft has been a vehicle of support to this early technology startup.
Microsoft Gulf, headquartered in Dubai, UAE discovered KinTrans in a local incubator in 2015. KinTrans was one of 5 startups selected to meet Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, during a visit to Dubai in January 2016. Mr. Nadella spoke with KinTrans about the future of Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft platform at large to bring about inclusion of all people, to digitally transform how the global community works together. Since that time, Microsoft Gulf sponsored KinTrans at the 2016 GITEX technology conference in Dubai, the QITCOM technology conference in Doha, Qatar, has made Developer Experience team resources available, and hosted KinTrans in the Dubai Microsoft Technology Center.
Today, Microsoft New England continues supporting KinTrans Inc., through civic engagement opportunities in Boston and working side-by-side with them in the MassChallenge accelerator. The goal together is to demonstrate how a deep technology platform, combined with innovative machine learning applications can open new, scalable opportunities for communication with Deaf in the marketplace, in the workplace, in schools, healthcare centers and civic institutions.
Tags: azure, BizSpark, BizSpark Plus, Doha, Dubai, GITEX, kinect, KinTrans, masschallenge, microsoft, Microsoft Gulf, Microsoft Kinect, Microsoft New England, New England, Qatar, QITCOM, Satya Nadella, UAE