• February 10, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie Editor, Speech Technology and CRM magazines
  • FYI

Overheard Underheard

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We're all familiar with the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword." Well, now, thanks to voice technologies, the pen is also mightier than disabilities.

Inspired by his younger sister, Julie, who has autism and often finds it difficult to speak, 12-year-old Eric Zeiberg created a handwriting-to-speech application for the iPad that helps people with speech disabilities communicate. Zeiberg, who lives in Connecticut, saw a huge gap in the assistive technology market, so he created HandySpeech, which is marketed by iSpeak4U and is available for download through the Apple AppStore for $29.99.

With the app, users write what they want to say in any one of 13 languages, and the software converts the handwriting into speech. The user can choose between male or female voices.

ISpeech provides the application's text-to-speech capability. "We're excited to have the opportunity to support such a young developer with a great cause," says iSpeech CEO Heath Ahrens. "This is an inspiration to our entire developer community."

PhatWare supplies the handwriting recognition technology, which adapts to the user's writing style. The application recognizes cursive, print, and mixed handwriting styles. Users can also input text via the keyboard to be read by the application. Simple finger gestures can be used to insert special characters.

"I hope that HandySpeech will provide much needed help and open new opportunities for people in need," Zeiberg said in a video on the iSpeak4U Web site. "The application is dedicated to courageous people who struggle every day to overcome their disabilities."

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