January 05 2015By Charlotte Knight
With thanks to Jessica Eisenberg for writing this blog post.
When Danny's (our CEO) grandmother had a stroke few years ago, she wanted to communicate with her family, and the family wanted to understand, but her speech was unclear and because of that so much was lost from her last years. We believe the frustration that stems from lack of ability to communicate normally touches so many of us that it makes us emotionally connected to the vision of enabling people with speech disabilities to speak freely and be understood by everyone, everywhere. We learn more and more every day about the many people that are affected by this everyday reality. Perhaps it’s a child they know with Autism who has invented their own language, or a loved one after a stroke who is unable to utter understandable sentences. Perhaps they have witnessed someone with a degenerative disease like Lou Gehrig’s or Parkinson’s struggle to order a pizza, buy a bus ticket, or simply ask for directions from a stranger.
Essentially, Talkitt is giving people with speech impairments their voice back. Our vision of helping those living with speech impairments is reinforced by the great interest and excitement from the professional community (speech therapists, occupational therapists and disability associations). This enthusiasm and the discussions we have had enabled us to unlock our imagination and create a voice based solution for a broader population with disabilities.
Our overall vision at Voiceitt is to develop technology that will reduce the gap for people with disabilities and dramatically improve their life by enabling them to be socially included. This is especially important as the trends we are seeing in our current ‘technological renaissance’ are natural user interface and wearable devices. However, those with disabilities are being left out of this trend. Our innovative solution will allow for a better world where anyone is able to speak on the phone, buy a coffee, or reach out to a loved one without fear of being unable to be understood.
Our main obstacle is timing as we are looking to get the product out as fast as we possibly can. Due to the enormous enthusiasm generated from not only potential users, but families, caregivers, and clinicians, we are working our hardest to get our product out to the market and keep our promise as to timing of availability. We understand all too well that children who are born with a speech disability are discouraged from a very young age from talking, because they don’t have the confidence to communicate knowing they will be understood. One challenge of working with innovative technology in the health field is to affect the elderly population. There is an increasing need for assistive devices for the elderly as we are seeing an increasing incidence of stroke and Parkinson’s in particular. However getting the elderly to take advantage of technological advances is a difficult task in the health care field, as we move to be more reliant on our mobile and wearable applications.
It is an honour to be part of this year’s Nominet Trust 100. There are so many inspirational projects we have seen. The ventures that help children are particularly inspiring, from CoderDojo which helps teach children how to code to Jerry the Bear which helps to educate children who have been diagnosed with diabetes. In addition to creating innovative technology that has the ability to change the way we tackle real life social challenges, these companies are doing it with lean teams at a ground breaking speed. In addition, they are heightening the awareness of issues facing so many communities around the world and are providing solutions that we never knew could exist.
Images courtesy of Talkitt