Google’s new Project Relate app aims to help people with speech disabilities communicate

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Project Relate is trained on users’ unique speech patterns to facilitate communication with others and with the Google Assistant.

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Google is developing and testing an application designed to help people with speech disabilities communicate more easily with others. Link with the project, an app for Android, now invites an “initial group of people” to test the product, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday. The app is also designed to facilitate interactions with the Google Assistant.

“[We] realized that our speech recognition technology could be improved to help people with speech impairments be understood better, ”Julie Cattiau, product manager at Google Research, said at an Inventors @ Google virtual event on Tuesday. “Standard speech recognition does not always work as well for people with atypical speech because the algorithms have not been trained on samples of their speech.”

Google therefore decided to create an app that would be “tailor-made on individuals’ unique speech patterns,” Cattiau said. For starters, users record a set of sentences so that the app can know how they speak. Then Google uses the voice data to personalize the technology and help users complete commands.

The Relate app includes three key features. Listen transcribes what someone says in real time, allowing them to send what they said as text, copy and paste it into other apps, or let people read what they say. ‘they say. Rehearsing repeats what someone says in a clear computerized voice, which hopefully makes face-to-face interactions more transparent. Finally, the Assistant connects to the Google Assistant to perform commands such as “Take a selfie”, “Turn off the lights” or “Play music”.

Google is looking for English-speaking testers in the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand to try the app and provide feedback. Early Project Relate testers will be asked to record a few phrases, which the app will then use to better understand their unique vocal patterns. Then, they will have access to the Listen, Snooze and Assistant features. Anyone interested in testing the Project Relate application can fill out a form at g.co/ProjectRelate. The team will respond “in the next few months,” says Google.

Project Relate is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to make technology more accessible to people with disabilities. Other apps and features the company has released in recent years include Live Transcribe, which provides real-time speech-to-text transcriptions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and Lookout, which helps people who are blind or visually impaired identify phone tags. ‘food, locate objects in a room, and scan documents and currency.


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