Google live transcribe to help hard of hearing

11th February 2019

Google has announced the introduction of its ‘Live Transcribe’ app for Android which allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to see a live, near real-time written display of conversations on their phone.

Google Live Transcribe

The Google Live Transcribe app offers deaf and hard of hearing people a new portable, accessibility tool that offers a convenient and innovative new way to join in conversations. With the Live Transcribe app turned on, the Android phone microphone feeds conversations into the app which can display accurate, near real-time captions on the phone screen in 70 different languages and dialects.  It also enables two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who can’t or don’t want to speak.  The app can connect with external microphones to improve transcription accuracy.

Another feature of the app is a blue circle in the corner of the screen that pulses to show the user the ambient noise level of wherever they are, thus showing the user if they need to move the phone/external microphone closer to a person for the app to ‘hear’ what they’re saying.

Live transcribe also vibrates the phone if someone speaks after a period of silence to prompt the user to look at the screen again.

Where, when and how can you get live transcribe?

The Live Transcribe app is available pre-installed on Pixel 3 phones and can be operated by switching it on in the accessibility settings.  The app is also available via the Google Play Store for other phones but is being released as a limited beta.  You can, however, sign up to be notified when more downloads of Live Transcribe are available in the Google Play Store by clicking on this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page:

Sound Amplifier app too

Another Android phone accessibility app launch announced by Google is ‘Sound Amplifier’.  As the name suggests, this app can be used with headphones plugged into the phone to boost the volume (e.g. of the voice of someone who’s talking to you) especially in situations where there’s a lot of background noise. Sound Amplifier filters, augments and amplifies sounds in any environment that you find yourself in and it works by increasing quiet sounds while not over-boosting loud sounds.

The app can be customised via sound enhancement settings and noise reduction can be applied to minimise distracting background noise with simple sliders and toggles.

Where, when and how can you get Sound Amplifier?

Sound Amplifier is available now, supports Android 9 Pie (or later) phones, is pre-installed on Pixel 3 phones and is available on the Play Store.

What does this mean for your business?

These apps could prove to be very convenient and useful in business, home and other situations for anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing.  These apps demonstrate how technology can be used to solve old and difficult problems in new and easy-to-use ways. They could provide an important step forward in accessibility for an outwardly invisible problem that millions of people suffer from.  For example, The World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2055, there will be 900 million people with hearing loss.

The Sound Amplifier app also provides Google with a way to compete with similar offerings from Apple.  For example, Apple offers a similar feature that works with AirPods. iPhones can also work with some hearing aids.