Ava is an app designed to empower people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It allows them to follow conversations in real time. The app is available on AppStore and PlayStore, and is web optimisable as well.
People with a hearing disability may find it challenging to keep up with conversations, especially in a group setting. Ava makes it easy for them to follow conversations, and for others in the group to converse with them.
The app uses the mobile device’s mic to transcribe speech to text, and also lets the users type to allow the app to speak for them. In this manner, the app also assists people who are unable to speak.
- The app transcribes anything spoken within a distance of 1 meter from the device with 95%-98% accuracy. One can also request a professional scribe for higher accuracy levels, who delivers in real time with AI.
- For results in larger groups, the app has a feature whereby the user can invite members/participants of the group conversation to download the app. Each user can speak into their own device, which will be transcribed real time, and appear on all connected devices. On the app the captions will appear in distinct colors for each username. This feature relates to the Charity Model of Disability; it requires others to accommodate to the person with disability’s condition.
- Alternatively, Ava also has bluetooth pairing, and can be connected to an external mic to avoid having the speakers download the app and speak into their mobile phones. This feature works best for events, lectures, classrooms, professional conferences.
- Ava also offers the scope to attach an audio adapter cable to another device to transcribe speech to text. This works for videos, conference calls, and so forth. The app presents a direct link to amazon.com, if the user wished to purchase any external devices.
- Ava can transcribe a number of different languages and accents.
- User can save the recorded transcripts and review them in future.
- The ‘Discover’ menu on the app acts as a guide for the user to set up Ava in different settings.
- The free version of Ava hold 5 hours of conversations a month. A user can also sign up for the unlimited plan for $29/month.
Ava has been noted to be the “first smart captioner for conversations based on machine intelligence”. It has made the inclusion of people with hearing disabilities possible at an inexpensive cost, and without the need of gadgets other than our personal smartphones. It manifests the Functional Model of Disability.
The app has given good and favourable results, but it does hold potential for improvement.
- The transcription is not completely reliable. At times, the app fails to transcribe correctly or catch up to the speed of speech that humans are naturally accustomed to.
- On a simple transcribe mode, wherein the app is functional only on one device, different speakers are not identified in the transcriptions. All captions are presented as if spoken by one. Hence, for clarity it becomes necessary that the user invite others to download the app.
In the above transcription, several captions have br transcribed incorrectly. 3-4 people participated in the conversations, but all got recorded under one ‘You’. There is no segregation.
Considering these limitations and certain customer reviews, following recommendations have been rendered for an improved user experience.
- Allow edits in the transcription, so the speaker can correct what is transcribed incorrectly.
- Allow manual addition and naming of participants to support segregation of captions. This recommendation may not work for group settings but will be useful to identify one or two speakers participating in a dialogue.