Voice Recognition Software – What is it any good for?
When the first true voice recognition software (VR) packages started to become available in the 1990s they offered the possibility of increased productivity by virtue of faster-than-typing dictate capabilities, and the potential to operate a computer almost solely with spoken commands. The potential for the disabled to be able to access computing power, as well as giving businesses a huge boost in productivity was obvious, but the reality of the low-quality products failed to live up to expectations. The dream was actually bit of a nightmare with retyping mistakes a routine event.
Translation software Becomes Reliable
The programming structure and database construction set up for VR lent their architecture to a new and highly accurate translation software that was capable of the translation of languages quickly and easily. But the correct use of structure, rules, and idiom in multiple languages is significantly more complex than resolving spoken words and printing them on a page, and these systems too require the highest quality peripherals to ensure that linguistics are understood and correctly translated. It is an issue when carrying out casual translation, but becomes a much greater issue when being used professionally such as in legal or technical applications.
Now, twenty years later, voice recognition and translation software packages have been honed to become an effective and usable tools for business and the disabled alike. Commercial VR and translation applications have become accurate programs with huge databases covering words, phrases and syntax combinations encompassing most of English and almost every other language in the World. Crucially, however, the hardware needed to interface the programs had also increased in quality, and therefore accuracy, over the same time period, and the two pronged approach increased the sensitivity and value of the programs enormously.
However, modern headsets with built-in microphones can be bulky pieces of equipment but they are necessary to get the most accurate delivery to your voice recognition software and it is essential that they are kept in good condition, so that means that they need to be stored and transported in appropriate way to ensure that they remain free from damage. Transporting technology like that around safely and equally as importantly, comfortably for the user becomes a bit of a task, but the range from Trabasack, makes it light work of all the extra gear.
Transporting Issues? No problem.
The Trabasack range go far beyond the normal model used for computer cases and are designed to be used in challenging situations that require specials features, such as those found with wheelchair users. This situation in particular offers particular problems as the user has to have everything with them, and be able to put it all together and operate it in a small area such as their lap. The architecture of the Trabasack Curve and Trabasack Curve Connect Trabasack products promotes such use, having purposely curved edges that allow the bag to sit comfortably on the lap, creating a sturdy surface for the computer to be rested on, and with well-lined equipment pockets for headsets and speakers, anyone can carry all the items they need around safely, in comfort and without risk of damage. For those needing more carrying capability, the Trabasack Max is a very high quality product with plenty of room for equipment.
But the Trabasack range are equally as useful to the business traveller, who may find that they need to carry equipment for VR and translation software onto aircraft and use it in the confined space of an aircraft seat. Additionally, they may need an ever higher specification headset to allow crystal-clear pick-up in low voice situations; neither the traveller nor the other passengers want to be in a position of having constant dictation being heard!! Once again, the Trabasack bags offer a firm work surface in a small package that is small enough for even the most room-conscious airlines, while offering complete safety in transporting expensive equipment.
Whether you suffer from some disability or not, the range of bags from Trabasack are more than capable of dealing with the equipment that you need to take with you to get the most out of your voice recognition and translation software.
Mike Parsons works for Kwintessential.co.uk a translation company who deal in Localization, Translation and interpretation. He enjoys writing in his spare time and gets the opportunity to travel a lot in his work hours.
The NEW SKOOG
It’s no secret that we are huge fans of the Skoog. Their original instrument is an absolute marvel that helps people with learning or physical disability play music. So when we heard Skoog 2.0 was being launched and an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign had been started in its name, we were immediately interested in finding out more. We are huge supporters of the talented team at Skoog and want to see their newest venture at launching Skoog 2.0 with full mainstream appeal succeed.
The Instrument for All
Skoog follows generations of equipment aimed at synthesising sound to make it more accessible. The brilliant thing about the Skoog and even more so with the Skoog 2.0 is it’s designed with inclusivity in mind. It follows design for all principles and in their own words it’s ‘a new musical instrument that you don’t need to learn how to use’. Simple, fun and able to be used in many different ways the Skoog 2.0 is tactile, soft to touch and absolutely fantastic when it comes to making music whether you’re 5 or 65.
Skoog 2.0 is a huge improvement from the original Skoog, which rose to fame thanks to its successful use in many classrooms around the world. Skoog 2.0 is designed with the average buyer in mind and it is finally becoming a reality that Skoog could be seen regularly in our homes, classrooms and communities. The new Skoog 2.0 has been enhanced in many ways. It is now wireless, iOS and Android compatible and an exceptionally expressive instrument which helps you to create music from the very first touch.
Anyone can play Skoog 2.0, it’s truly universal. All the technical barriers usually faced when trying to play a musical instrument are removed and the sound can be focused on, allowing the player to feel like a real musician and enjoy their very own tune within mere minutes. This campaign video gives a little more information about Skoog 2.0 works:
Making Music with Technology
As that video suggest Skoog and Skoog 2.0 help you to make music using tech and the sounds are simply produced by your movements and the way you touch and press the instrument. This video shows in more depth exactly how you play the Skoog and below this there is an example of a Skoog musician playing a popular song:
As you can see Skoog is fun, user-friendly and allows true enjoyment of music for people of all ages and experiences.
Supporting Skoog 2.0
Despite the fact that the original Skoog was hugely popular the team still need more funding to launch their second product on the mass market and we want to give them a boost. Their IndieGoGo campaign is well on its way to achieving its impressive £75,000 target but we’ve only got until January 8th 2015 to help and we really want to see the guys getting the results they deserve. There are perks for making a donation, all of which sound pretty worthwhile to us and are well explained in the below graphic:
Music for Everyone
Music can be enjoyed by people from all backgrounds and of all experiences. It’s a key feature in sensory education and as the photo to the left shows, the original Skoog is perfectly partnered with our Trabasack Media Mount to create a one-person musical station. Universal products need more support and we believe that Skoog 2.0 should be made available to as many people as possible. Go and contribute if you can or share this news with your networks to support a great cause!
Low Cost AAC Apps for Speech
The range of AAC apps on the market is vast and working your way through them all can be a daunting task. Some of the more established brands may seem hugely expensive, especially if you don’t have funding in any way and especially in light of recent benefit cuts.
An extremely helpful and valued group on Facebook called More Than Words has given us plenty of food for thought and inspired this post. The group is managed by Kati Lea, who has previously appeared on our site as a Trabasack user and advocate of many AAC apps and devices.
We’ve learned a lot in our time in the group and are sharing some of the fantastic low cost AAC apps for speech available if you can’t stretch to the more expensive options on the market.
An iPad app designed by two experienced speech language pathologists who specialise in AAC. The app is built upon evidence and research and uses a word-based vocabulary. The vocabulary is built up from the most frequently used words in general communication and gives access to over 13,000 words. It’s available for £139.99 which is significantly less than many of the more established apps.
ClaroCom is an iOS app which aims to take the place of speech for those who are unable to communicate that way. It’s designed to be suitable for adults and children with some or complete literacy. Users can simply type into ClaroCom or they can use word prediction or phrase prediction functions. A range of voices are available and they are programmed with English accents which can make all the difference. You can make the in-app purchase of further accents including Australian, Scottish and South African. ClaroCom may be a good first app for users new to AAC as it’s available for just £9.99.
Speech Assistant AAC
This app is for Android users and is completely free! Being free doesn’t necessarily make it a great choice although we think it has some basic, valuable features which make it worth trying. The app is loaded up with 12 categories and within each category are several set phrases which can be vocalised as they are and you can also add in important personalisation.
Grid Player is another highly valuable FREE AAC app which could be perfect for you or your family. It is accessible for a wide range of people including those who are more comfortable with symbols than words or text. It includes over 24,000 different symbols and has both male and female voices so it can be personalised. You can personalise it and add in your own features including photographs, words and symbols.
Some of these apps may not be perfect for your situation but they could be part of the learning curve to find the right app or device for you or your family’s needs. If you have found some low cost apps to help with communication or wish to comment on the post above please do so below. You will also find more useful apps for communication under ‘Related Posts’ below.
Communication Aids for Older People
As we age many of us succumb to conditions and the natural effects of ageing which means communication and the use of other faculties becomes difficult. From macular degeneration to dementia, many conditions can affect communication and finding communication aids and devices for the elderly is a sensible move when looking to ensure quality of life is maintained. Obviously depending on the particular issues faced by the individual elderly person in question the requirements from a communication device will differ. The communication devices that we look are particularly valuable to the older people and can make a huge different to daily life.
Due to conditions such as dementia causing a decline in cognitive abilities, modern technologies are usually avoided when considering communication aids for the elderly. There is nothing to say that some people may be capable of communicating via an electronic AAC device in most instances introducing this new technology would just provide more confusion, hence the devices mentioned below being quite simplistic in comparison to many on the market.
Simple and straightforward, Menuboard allows an elderly person who may have become non-verbal or has non-verbal periods to put across what they want to eat. Obviously eating is a basic human right and choosing your own meals is something integral to remaining independent. Alternatively, this board can be used in a care home environment to signify to groups of elderly people what’s arranged for meal times.
Aquapaint has been developed specifically for those living with dementia and is designed to promote conversation and communication through art therapy. Not only do they promote communication, water-based aqua paints are able to provide endless stimulation and the finished product can instil a sense of pride in individuals who are struggling to deal with the rapid onset of the disease.
We’d also suggest users trying out Aquapaints could consider a Trabasack lap tray as the perfect painting surface, especially when topped with a Trabasack non-slip mat, keeping the surface of the lap tray perfectly clean thanks to the non-slip mat’s protective covering. The Trabasack sits comfortably on your lap without exerting pressure and provides the perfect portable table.
This video shows Aquapaint in action:
Talking Mats are a further low-tech communication device, simply comprising pictures, words and the requirement of the individual to point out or nod towards their specific request or requirement. They can help with the expression of feelings as well as giving directions and are extremely simple, providing an anxiety-free communication method without the need to worry about modern technology.
These are just thee communication devices which could benefit the older people. There are many more on the market which may suit individuals and of course, each person has their own personal requirements, strengths and weaknesses so may suit a different type of device altogether.