Vision and hearing impaired trialling Google Glass apps

Telstra staff using Glass to gain more independence

Telstra employee Kelly Schultz, who is blind, is testing the new app for the vision impaired

Telstra employee Kelly Schultz, who is blind, is testing the new app for the vision impaired

Telstra staff with vision and hearing problems are trialling apps for Google Glass as part of an initiative to understand how to assist people with disabilities to become more independent at home and work.

Over the past six months, the telco has been working with app developer b2cloud to trial what the companies claim are world-first wearable apps.

The vision impaired apps lets users who are blind or have vision impairment to receive audio descriptions of objects in front of them. It incorporates recognition technology from Silicon Valley called ‘Tap Tap See’.

The visually-impaired user picks up an object, holds it in front of them, says the commanded “OK Glass, what’s this?”, and the app takes a photo and processes the image. It then sends an accurate audio description of the object to the user through the Google Glass speaker.

The hearing impaired app transcribes speech for people who are deaf or have hearing impairment, enabling them to follow a conversation or speech at an event. They can do this without having to look away from the overall context of a presentation or needing to lip read or sit at a separate subtitled screen.

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This app also transcribes speech either from a typist transcribing or from direct voice recognition input and broadcast it to the display on Glass.

Telstra employee Kelly Schultz – who has been legally blind all her life – said Glass gave her more freedom to complete tasks herself.

“To be able to identify objects, to be connected to the world and have it all private in your ear – fantastic,” she said.

b2cloud managing director Josh Guest said Telstra is leading the way in trialling emerging technology.

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“Telstra is taking a smart approach by experimenting with the technology early, building prototypes and getting them into the hands of a select target user group for real world testing,” he said.

b2cloud has is one of a group of developers with access to Google Glass and is currently working with Australian corporates to create apps.

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