Announcing the creation of the SpeechAngel Non-Profit Association

Dear Speechangels,
We have come a long way with Speechangel, pursuing the noble cause of helping disabled people in their daily lives.
This has all started in 2009 with a BSc thesis then continued in 2015 with EU-XCEL. In 2016 Alicia and Nataliya created a team in Berlin to further develop Speechangel and raise capital through several channels, including a crowdfunding campaign. Although we have not launched it finally, we have gained valuable experience out of it.
As you may know, I had the honor to meet Stéphane in Basel, who enthusiastically joined the project and brought an important business skill set to Speechangel. We are working together for over a year and today we are reaching a new milestone of our journey.
We have the great pleasure to announce that Speechangel has officially become a non-profit association based in Switzerland. This form will allow us to raise funds from individuals, companies and governments while realizing our social mission without any compromise on our values.
We continue on our way with renewed energy – stay tuned!

Electronically openable ‘smart’ door locks

Smart home devices

As we demonstrated with our ‘no hands challenge’ video, carrying out regular tasks when you suffer from a condition restricting mobility can be difficult. That’s why it’s very important for many home devices to be managed electronically. A very important subset of this are door locks. Door locks require electronic management in the homes of those laboured with disability. This may be for anything from simply letting in a visiting friend or a response to an actual emergency scenario. Either way we want to present you with examples of the kind of available door locks that are compatible with our technology.

Kwikset Kevo ($219)

The Kevo, when it’s just hanging there on your door, doesn’t draw attention to itself. When you’re using it, a cool glowing ring lights up. Kevo communicates with your phone (or an optional key fob if you don’t have a smart phone) via Bluetooth. You don’t even have to pull out your phone to open the door. When the lock senses you in front in it, you just have to tap the Kevo with your finger to unlock. You can assign unlimited virtual ekeys. The Kevo can even tell if you’re inside or outside the house.

Danalock by Poly-Control ($99)

Danalock comes in Bluetooth and Bluetooth plus Z-Wave versions. If you have, or plan to get, a smart home system, you should probably go with the Z-Wave version. One major bonus of the Danalock is that it doesn’t replace your existing deadbolt- the mechanism installs onto your deadbolt, so you can keep your original house key. The Z-Wave version, when combined with a Z-Wave smart home system allows remote locking and unlocking.

August Smart Lock ($249.99)

The August Smart Lock can maintain a constant internet connection by combining with the August connect, a small device that plugs into a power outlet in your house and connects to your wireless. This allows you to reach the lock remotely if you need to lock or unlock the door while you’re away. It also communicates to your smart phones via Bluetooth, so you don’t need an internet connections for the lock to operate. The August lock is part of the ‘Works with Nest’ family, so the Nest Thermostat can be programmed to change temperature settings based when you lock and unlock the door.

Schlage Sense (This is not Bluetooth but it is interesting because it uses SIRI) ($179.99)

The Schlage Sense is the first smart lock designed to work with Apple HomeKit technology and includes the ability to use Siri to lock and unlock your door with your voice. You can assign and manage up to 30 virtual keys (Schlage calls them codes) at the same time. The Schlage Sense lock will be available in two styles, Camelot and Century, in a variety of finishes, including Matte Black, Satin Nickel and Aged Bronze to complement each home’s look.

We hope you’re now up to date on available and affordable door locks. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.

Why a phone app for SpeechAngel? Why Android?

SpeechAngel enables you to live your life more easily. Our customers operate the app via a graphical speech interface on their mobiles. The app will ensure a higher level of independence of the immobilised person in daily life. It will facilitate caretaking of the immobilised person for the families and other caregivers enabling them to leave the person unattended for an extended period of time. Our app also supports over 35 different languages and has a high level of customization in terms of command words.

So, why does our app operate via phones, or more particularly, phones operating on Android?

Mobile phones are affordable and easily available. The app is simple to use and always on hand when installed on your mobile. Nowadays smartphone usage is widespread and buying an Android smartphone is affordable (less that 120 euros).

The following link provides more information on the affordability of today’s smartphones:

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/mobile-phone/20-best-budget-smartphones-2016-uk-summary-buying-advice-3473395/

The mobile operating system, Android, currently developed by Google was created primarily for mobile devices that harboured a touchscreen (this can be a smartphone or a tablet). Android has been the best selling OS on tablets since 2013 and is ubiquitously dominant on smartphones and has the largest installed base of all operating systems of any kind. Android-powered devices have built-in sensors that measure motion, orientation and various environmental conditions. Android platform supports three broad categories of sensors. Motion sensors: measuring acceleration forces and rotational forces along three axes. This category includes accelerometers, gravity sensors, gyroscopes, and rotational vector sensors. Environmental sensors: measuring various environmental parameters such as air temperature and pressure, illumination and humidity. This category includes barometers, photometers and thermometers. Position sensors: measuring the physical position of a device. This category includes orientation sensors and magnetometers.

The use of sensor framework enables you to do the following: determine which sensors are available on a device. Determine an individual sensor’s capabilities, such as its maximum range and resolution. Acquire raw sensor data and register and unregister sensor event listeners that monitor sensor changes.

We hope this gives you an introduction into why SpeechAngel uses Android phones! Do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.

Living with cerebral palsy

At SpeechAngel our goal is to assist anybody that is living with a condition of restricted mobility. This includes diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s but a further important example is cerebral palsy. The condition severely limits casual, everyday movement and affects eight hundred thousand people in the United States alone.

We’re keen for people to understand not just what we’re doing but also why we’re doing it.

To get an idea of what in can be like to live with mobility limitations first hand, we highly recommend that you give Jesse Bauer’s blog a read. Diagnosed in 2009, Jesse explains the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of living with cerebral palsy.

Understand this disease through Jesse’s eyes 🙂

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel team.

Meeting with activist Dick Cochius

This weekend the SpeechAngel team are out in Holland meeting with Dick Cochius! During our time there we’ll be interviewing Dick to find out more about his experiences and his condition.

Dick lives with spinal muscular atrophy and is a prominent activist who has been very vocal on the subject of disability.

Information and comments from Dick will be available on the SpeechAngel website next week!

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel team.

The difference between speaker-dependent and speaker-independent recognition software

We’d like to let you know a little more about our product at SpeechAngel and give a short explanation of speech recognition 🙂

There are two types of speech recognition. One is called speaker-dependent and the other speaker-independent. Speaker-dependent solutions are found in specialsed use cases where there a limited number of words that need to be recognized with high accuracy, while speaker–independent software is more often found in telephone applications.
Speaker–dependent software operates by learning the unique, individual characteristics of a single person’s voice, in a way similar to voice recognition. New users must first “train” the software by speaking to it, so the computer can analyse the way in which the person talks. This usually means users have to read a few pages of text to the computer before they can use the speech recognition software.
Speaker–independent software is designed to recognise anyone’s voice, so it requires no training. This means it is the only concrete option for applications such as interactive voice response systems — where businesses can’t ask callers to read pages of text before using the system. The downside is that speaker–independent software is generally speaking less accurate than speaker–dependent software.
Speech recognition engines that are speaker independent generally deal with this fact by limiting the grammars they use. By using a smaller list of recognized words, the speech engine is more likely to correctly recognize what a speaker said.
This makes speaker–independent software ideal for most IVR systems, and any application where a large number of people will be using the same system.

We hope this paints a clearer picture!

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel team.

SpeechAngel at YouthSpeak Forum Switzerland

On 14th April SpeechAngel took part in the event YouthSpeak in Switzerland.

This was the first edition of the forum and was powered by AIESEC.

This conference was aimed at social start-ups and was a great way for us to explain our goals and brainstorm with other change-makers.

The SpeechAngel Team partook in discussion of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals which are as follows:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and wellbeing
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.

What’s it like to live with MS?

Here’s a great article on living with MS by the journalist Lisa Salmon.

 

Read the challenges that are presented by living with disease here:

http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/wellbeing/what-its-like-to-live-with-multiple-sclerosis-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-ms-11364055103781

 

Information on the author:

Mother-of-two young sons, Lisa Salmon’s writing career spans 25 years. Registered blind after a car accident, she has shown strength in overcoming great adversity. Lisa lost her new-born son in 2002, suffered a miscarriage a year later and fought a near-fatal blood clot. She has won the Barbara Taylor-Bradford Woman of Substance Award for her courage and lives with her family in Yorkshire.

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.

Mobility rights activism with Marcel Brans

While back in Holland, in Breda, we teamed up with Marcel Brans. Marcel is a mobility rights activist who is engaged in a project to make the city of Breda the most accessible city for wheelchairs in the Netherlands.

Marcel is advising SpeechAngel into living with mobility limitations and the way he faces up to his challenges. We will be sharing a full video interview with Marcel about his life, work and thoughts on speech technology in late May.

Subscribe to our newsletter to find out when the content will be up.

 

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.

Why speech interfaces are the future of assistive technology

At SpeechAngel, we’re enabling people by giving them power through their voice.

This is an article by Professor Teixeira at the university Aveiro on the importance of speech interfaces when dealing with mobility limitations: 00b7d5182a5bea156b000000-2

It’s a fantastic insight into how this technology can help change millions of lives.

Here’s a quick summation to get you started

 

Speech as the basic interface for Assistive technology

Background information

  • About 50 million people (10% of todays European Union – EU population) are disabled.
  • 1% present at least one type of impairment.
  • 6% = mobility impairment.
  • 4% = cerebral palsy.
  • Number of elderly people aged from 65 to 80 will rise by nearly 40% between 2010 and 2030 in the EU.
  • The group of people over 80 will almost double by 2050.

 

State of Assistive Technology

In Europe

  • European commission is making a 1 billion dollar investment R&D.
  • HERMES (cognitive care and guidance for active aging).
  • The CompanionAble (Integrated cognitive assistive and domestic companion robotic system for ability and security).
  • WWAAC – The World Wide Augmentative and Alternative communication Project.
  • Handicom (provides several devices ranging from single-handed keyboards, Bliss language processes or sign language software.
  • Tobii (Sweden based. Specialised in AAS devices).
  • VOCA (voice output communication aids).
  • Microsoft provides an AT program.

 

In Portugal

  • AT is more orientated to visually impaired people, since they represent the larger group of disabled people.
  • CIDEF – Robobraille project,
  • FCT- funded project: Ubiquitous Web Access for visually Impaired People (VIP-ACCESS)
  • Electrosertec: leading company in Portugal providing all types of AT to visually impaired people.
  • Vodaphone Portugal: Vodaphone Say
  • B-Live (home automation infrastructure)
  • CARL (intelligent robot)

 

The Importance of Speech Interfaces in Assistive Technology

  • Speech is the easiest and most natural way for human-human and human-machine interaction.
  • Therefore interfaces must be speech-based
  • The end-users of these solutions are not only visually impaired people, but also individuals with severe speech disabilities and the elderly.

STATUS QUO (Portugal)

Problems for Speech

  1. Speech is an interesting interface but can only be secondary.
  2. Speech interfaces don’t have an appealing market.
  3. Speech technology is not useable.
  4. We already have the necessary speech technology.

 

Potential for Speech

  1. Speech can be the only interface with AT.
  2. The market in AT is growing.
  3. Voice output communication aids.
  4. Speech recognition in writing.
  • Speech Synthesis in reading, writing.
  1. Speech training methods and devices.
  2. Processing of speech in cochlea implants.

 

Conclusions

The following actions are required

  • To personalise the communication aid devices to SSPI.
  • To adapt and expand state-of-the-art speech technology in European Portuguese to SSPI.
  • To conduct multidisciplinary work on the requirements, development and evaluation regarding the real use of speech technologies.
  • To develop prototypes.
  • To enhance the communication competence and quality of life for affected individuals.

 

Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.