A new attachment for eyeglasses that provides transcriptions in real-time has been hailed as a "life-changing" innovation for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
TranscribeGlass – a startup founded by two Stanford University students – is an AR (augmented reality) device that shows subtitles in front of the wearers' eyes as they listen to a conversation.
A video demonstrating the technology in action has gone viral on TikTok, with viewers saying the invention is a game-changer for disabilities, and asking if it could one day be used to translate between different languages.
"This is one of the best inventions I've seen in a long time. You're doing amazing things," wrote one user. Another added: "With this, you'll never hear me say 'huh' again."
Tom Pritsky, who has bilateral hearing loss and is the company's co-founder and a former research assistant at the Stanford School of Medicine, is shown demonstrating the attachment in the clip, which has fetched millions of views.
As white subtitles appear on the wearer's right-hand lens, Pritsky says: "With our device, you can actually see everything I say in your field of view, in real-time, while also getting a good sense of my lips, my environment, and everything else around me."
TranscribeGlass is still in beta testing, with the option of signing up online to try it ahead of an expected launch this winter.
It is not clear how much the device will cost, but its creators have touted it as being "affordable".
After a prohibitive $999 price tag was partially blamed for the failure of Google Glass, TranscribeGlass most likely won't want to make the same mistake.
People have had some pressing questions, such as can TranscribeGlass convert between languages - a potential game-changer for travellers – while others have asked how it copes in crowded areas where multiple people are speaking.
On its website, the company states the product is still in testing, and that people "should not expect the beta version of the product to be perfect".
TranscribeGlass hasn't commented on the device's ability to translate languages, but it says users can choose their own language and connect to their "favourite speech to text software or live-captioning source", which suggests it is at least theoretically possible.
The device is designed to be lightweight, and with enough battery-life to last the whole day, according to TranscribeGlass's website.
Users can mount the device onto glasses they already own, although it also comes with empty spectacle frames for those with 20/20 vision.
Wearers also have full control over font size, and the position of the text.
Describing the struggles people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing regularly face, Pritsky told the Stanford Daily: "If you put me in a bar, I have a really hard time. There are conversations where I primarily nod along; my understanding drops to 20% at best."
He added: "I really like captions for movies. I thought it would be fantastic to have them for real life."
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