When you are deaf or have hearing loss, technology can be difficult to use. 

In 35 years, there will be 900 million people with hearing loss, according to The World Health Organization. And it's quite stunning to see the needs of such a large section of the population ignored. It's not easy to understand people who are mumbling on the phone, for instance, and videos without captions are the worst. Luckily, Google is stepping up to the plate, introducing two Android apps for the deaf and hearing impaired.

What is Google Live Transcribe?

Google's Dimitri Kanevsky, a deaf research scientist with 30 years of experience in speech recognition and communications technology, once created a service, called CART, where a captioner virtually joins a meeting to listen and create a transcription of spoken dialogue that displays on a computer screen. Kanevsky's teammate, Chet Gnegy, noticed CART meant having to use multiple devices, and it was best suited to meetings.

CART wasn't ideal for everyday conversations. So, Gnegy and Google's Accessibility went about building a better tool for Kanevsky. They wanted to use cloud-based automatic speech recognition that could display spoken words on a screen. The result is Live Transcribe, Google's new app for Android devices. It takes real-world speech and turns it into real-time captions using just your phone’s mic.

Live Transcribe, which is launching now in in over 70 languages and dialects, enables two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who can’t or don’t want to speak, according to Google. The app also works with external mics to improve transcription accuracy. 

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Getting started

  1. To use Live Transcribe, download the app from Play Store.
  2. You must first enable it work in your device's Accessibility Settings menu.
  3. Then, you can start a Live Transcribe from the accessibility button on the nav bar.

Availability 

On 4 February 2019, Live Transcribe began gradually rollout out in a limited beta to users worldwide via the Play Store and pre-installed on Pixel 3 devices. Sign up here to join the beta or be notified when it’s widely available.

What is Google Sound Amplifier?

Google is launching another app called Sound Amplifier. The idea is that, everyone can use an audio boost, especially when there’s a lot of background noise, like at an airport. Sound Amplifier, first announced at Google I/O last year, works on Android smartphones with wired headphones. It can filter, augment, and amplify the sounds in your environment, according to Google.

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Getting started

  1. To use Sound Amplifier, first connect a pair of wired headphones to your device.
  2. Thenm download and install the Sound Amplifier app from Play Store.
  3. To customise the sound and noise reduction, go to Sound Amplifier's settings menu.
  4. Move the sliders and toggles until you're satisfied with the sound quality.

Availability 

On 4 February 2019, Sound Amplifier became available on the Play Store. It supports Android 9 Pie or later and comes pre-installed on Pixel 3. 

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