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The first Kickstarter to change a human condition. Read more

San Rafael, CA Hardware
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55
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$3,266
pledged of $75,000 goal
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The first Kickstarter to change a human condition.

San Rafael, CA Hardware
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About this project

You probably know someone with severe hearing loss. Whether it's a close friend, grandparent, or coworker, there's a good chance you know someone who has lost the ability to hear. Hearing loss and deafness affect about 10% of the global population. This widespread human condition is a communication barrier for millions of people in the world. Most are late-life deaf or hard-of-hearing and can speak well, but do not know sign language. Similarly, most that have late-life hard-of-hearing do not have people around them who have learned sign language.

From this knowledge, the iseewhatyousay concept was born. The iseewhatyousay is an elegant device which acts as a companion device to a smartphone.

The iseewhatyousay Advanced Prototype
The iseewhatyousay Advanced Prototype

When Alex was first approached about this human condition, he was asked to make a device for a friend whose father was almost completely deaf. Using off-the-shelf parts, Alex created the first iseewhatyousay prototype from a Teensy 3.0 Arduino device, LCD screen, Bluetooth module and a rechargeable battery all fitted into a 3D printed shell. This prototype was paired with a custom Android app so speech would be translated to text and display on the device.

After using the first device, the users and Alex noticed a lot of room for improvement. The device was a little big and the app needed to be tweaked. The next version of the device was much smaller with improved battery life. The LCD screen was changed to an OLED screen that is easier to read even in bright light. The app also got an overhaul. It now features a single button interface and even offers automatic translation in 70+ languages!

The phone user simply holds the button, speaks, and releases the button. The translated speech appears as text on the device almost immediately. The current version of our device makes conversations smooth, makes carrying the device effortless, and makes lives better.

The prototype you see above is not the final product. It has a beautiful, easy to read OLED screen and all of the functionality works well. However, before production starts we need to produce a design that has an even smaller footprint and a case that isn't 3D printed one at a time. That's where we need your help. Our team is small and we've created something really amazing, but we can't afford to make the jump from one-by-one custom hardware to mass production.

We're asking for support in this Kickstarter for costs in producing the first few batches of the device. This means help in paying for a more professional design, start-up production, packaging and distribution. The revision cycle for a high quality product is lengthy and expensive. With your help we can work tirelessly to make sure the final device is flawless and user friendly.

We are striving to produce a product that is easy enough for anybody to use and affordable enough for everyone to own.

Normally, this would be a section where the funding rewards are discussed. This time, we would like to talk about a bigger reward. Today, you can help give millions of people around the globe the gift of communication. The iseewhatyousay has helped families talk again in a fluid conversation, helped doctors talk with patients, and helped friends talk with friends. Currently the number of people we are able to help is very limited. The rewards on this page aren't just what you're getting; it’s what you are helping to give to others. It's our way of thanking you for giving this gift to everyone that needs help.

Anyone that helps back this project will have access to purchase one of the first produced iseewhatyousay devices. If you pledge $25 you will get a t-shirt. Wear the t-shirt with pride know you are part of something amazing.If you pledge only $50, you will get one of the devices! You can truly say you helped make the world a better place. All pledges above $50 will get you a device and the iseewhatyousay T-Shirt!

With your support, we can help eliminate the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing communication barriers.

We would like to make the final version of the device work with both Android phones and iPhones. Currently the companion app is only available for Android with development just starting for iOS. Apple makes it a bit more difficult to use Bluetooth communications, but we're confident we can make it happen. In future versions we want to target other phones and devices including Windows Phone, Blackberry, and more.

We would also like to add some features to the device while keeping costs low. Adding a microphone to the device would allow two way communications with the phone and allow the device to work with a phone that is kept in a purse or pocket. In this usage scenario, the Hard-of-Hearing individual would be able to have conversations without ever needing to pull out his or her phone. However, because this is a completely separate Bluetooth protocol, it adds a lot of complexity to the device. If we exceed our goal, we will strive to make this feature a reality.

 

Risks and challenges

With our advanced prototype, we're looking into final designs, we're getting quotes from manufacturers, and we're finalizing the design that will reach production and store shelves. We have to get as many features we can into a very small, easy to carry package. Once we choose a reliable manufacturer who can make the device as affordable as possible, we will start production. With your help in backing this project, we will be able to produce our first batch and produce this device for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.

If there is a problem, it will be early in production. Should a problem in production arise, we will work hard to correct any problems but the first few batches may be delayed. We will keep you updated with every step of production.

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FAQ

  • In reality, this is a second screen for your phone. After launch, we plan on improving on the companion app to provide more uses for the device. This may include a stock ticker, weather, email alerts, news, game controls, and more! All in one easy-to-carry device.

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  • The idea is to produce a small, portable companion to your phone that can be easily worn or carried. Phone-to-Phone requires both phones to be paired up, which is very difficult in most use cases.

    Picture a Deaf person going into a restaurant. It would be difficult to get a waiter who can pair up his or her phone with a patron just to order. With a companion device like this, a single push of a button makes it so the two can communicate.

    There's also a problem with OS interoperability. Android, iOS, and Windows Phone are difficult to get to communicate with each other. There's problems with differing Bluetooth versions and differing Bluetooth communication protocols. On top of all that, most phones which can send (TX) information over a Bluetooth protocol cannot receive (RX) the same type of information back!

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  • For the current version, the input for voice is on the phone. For the final version, we want voice input on the device. That way, instead of taking out the phone to do Voice-to-Text and displaying the text, the phone can stay in a pocket or purse with the device worn on keys or a lanyard. That way it's very convenient for a person to carry the device and strike up a conversation, not a cumbersome way to communicate that detracts from the conversation.

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  • While we're still getting a lot of informations from manufacturers, we aren't done looking at final prices. There's a lot to factor in. Some have quoted us really cheap prices, but they use integrated circuits that are not capable of doing everything we need. Once we nail down the exact manufacturing cost, we'll post an update. So far, the device is definitely coming in under the target (about $23-$30 each), so there won't be an issue of underfunding.

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  • Yes! With a built in battery, we want the device to be low powered and rechargeable for the easiest use. No swapping batteries, just a quick recharge. So far, our testing with rechargeable batteries has been a great success.

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  • Although it's very likely to change in the final version, our first revision had a rechargeable battery that lasted about a month with frequent use. This was not in standby all the time, but turned off when not in use.

    Looking at typical Bluetooth headsets, many can last for over a week in standby. We're striving to make this device as low-powered as possible so it can have a similar standby/use time.

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  • Our current version of the companion app uses Google Voice-to-Text. The iOS version may use Siri voice, or we may switch to a more unified API, such as Dragon's Voice Dictation API. These Voice-to-Text APIs are great at not only picking up on what it thinks you've said, but they also use context for more accurate results.

    We're always working to improve the accuracy of the Voice-to-Text. Current versions of the device and App also include saved messages on the device. This allows a user to save common phrases and display them quickly on his or her device.

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  • Most of our testing has been in American English. From what we've seen, however, the Voive-to-Text APIs handle a vast amount of languages. Some need a little improvement, others a lot.

    Inputting other languages, such as French, Spanish, and German, have also shown a lot of promise and have worked very well in early testing. For the purposes of this Kickstarter, we are focusing on English, but with updates to the iseewhatyousay device and the companion Apps, other languages can be easily added.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    6 backers

    THANK YOU -
    Every donor pledging $10 or more will get a personal 'Thank You' posted on our website. Everyone helped by this device will know who contributed.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    2 backers

    ISEEWHATYOUSAY T-SHIRT -
    It's our way of thanking you for helping. This pledge is not bundled with others, so make sure to get the T-Shirt separately from the devices.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    31 backers

    ISEEWHATYOUSAY -
    You get one of the first iseewhatyousay devices for yourself!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    6 backers

    SHOW OFF -
    You get one of the first iseewhatyousay devices for yourself!
    You will also get the iseewhatyousay T-Shirt!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers Limited (20 left of 20)

    RESEARCHERS' SPECIAL - You and up to nine of your colleagues will be able to attend an online session with someone from the team to discuss the device. From this, we'll get valuable feedback from the field that will help in the development of the final or later revisions. Each attendant will get an iseewhatyousay device to use before attending the online meeting.
    You will also get the iseewhatyousay T-Shirt!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    1 backer

    SPECIAL EDITION -
    As a bonus, you'll also receive one of the first devices in a special metal case and your name will be highlighted as a top tier backer on the website.
    You will also get the iseewhatyousay T-Shirt!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    PLATINUM EDITION -
    Your name will be engraved on the inside of the first production run and you will receive a special metal version. Your name will be highlighted as a top tier backer on the website and you'll help produce hundreds of devices for those in need.
    You will also get the iseewhatyousay T-Shirt!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)