Assistive Technology: TranscribeGlass

TranscribeGlass is a wearable device for people in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community that fixes to glasses and allows the wearer to read real-time captioned speech while watching the speaker with the aim to increase comprehension at a more affordable cost than its $1500 inspiration, Google Glass.   

Invented by seventeen-year-old Madhav Lavakare from New Delhi, Lavakare had a classmate with hearing loss drop out of school. His classmate informed him that he was not able to understand the conversations going on around him and wasn’t sure what to do. When Lavakare suggested hearing aids or cochlear implants, his friend told him that these weren’t an option. They were too unaffordable in their area of India, and speech-to-text apps requiring too much looking up and down between a screen and the speaker to aid his friend. So, Lavakare was determined to find a solution. His aim was to build affordable “real-time smart captioning glasses” for people with hearing loss. 

Key features:

  • ~$55
  • Full day of battery life
  • Control over caption size, font, placement, language
  • Various caption source options including ASR, CART/stenography and subtitle files
  • Can clip onto most standard glasses

How do these features utilize the different models of disability? 

TranscribeGlass was developed in direct response to the unaffordability and inaccessibility in obtaining cochlear implants and hearing aids in India and around the world. The social model emphasizes that the larger problem are financial and social barriers in making new and existing technologies available to those that need them, and it is from this economic frustration that TranscribeGlass was born.

However, TranscribeGlass also uses the functional solutions model. Lavakare noted that there was a need for captioned technology that required less or no looking between a speaker and a handheld screen. So, in response, he created one.

Image Description: Images of two glasses – Google Glass and TranscribeGlass with their prices. Google Glass is listed as $1500 with a sleek design, and TranscribeGlass as $50, with a similar design.


Lavakare remembers when the Google Glass was introduced in 2013 but, as it was being sold for $1500 each, noted that this technology was often unaffordable for people in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. He believes the cost to be the main reason why this technology never gained much popularity, especially in India. 

So he built his own. And, slated to hit the market in Fall 2021, TranscribeGlass does just that. With a target price of 55 USD (or 4000 rupees), it is significantly cheaper than its predecessor, Google Glass. 

TranscribeGlass is advertised as a “stripped down device [without] all the bells and whistles.” To achieve this, TranscribeGlass isn’t a pair of glasses but actually a device that clips onto glasses frames.

Image Description: Smiling man wearing TranscribeGlass device.


Not only is TranscribeGlass transportable and affordable, it allows for a series of customizations for the user’s benefit. Wearers can choose the size of the captions, the font, the placement and the language. They can use different caption source options and even different pairs of glasses. Currently, over 132 languages are supported. 

The Catch? 

In many ways, TranscribeGlass appears to be exactly what it advertises itself as: low-cost captioning glasses than enable people with impaired hearing to understand the conversations around them in real time. However, as they have yet to be released, we will have to wait and see just how effective they really can be. 

The question also remains as to the ease of focusing on both speaker and captions and the same time but Lavakare is committed to continually improving the product for maximum ease of use.


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