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ATU522 – Translate Live with Peter Hays

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:
Peter Hays – CEO of Translate Live
Apple New Accessibility Story: https://bit.ly/3fFryaX
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Peter Hays:
Hi, this is Peter Hayes and I’m the CEO on TranslateLive. And this is your Assistant Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis Indiana. Welcome to episode 522 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on May 28th, 2021. On today’s show we’re super excited to welcome Peter Hayes, CEO of TranslateLive, on the show to talk about TranslateLive and the different solutions it has available to help individuals communicate better. We also have a quick story about some new accessibility features coming out for Apple devices. Don’t forget, we always love to hear from you. If you’d like to reach us, please send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org. Call our listener line at (317) 721-7124 or send us a line on Twitter @INDATAproject. Thank you for listening and let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
After all these months of lockdown, maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. Well, make sure to check out our sister podcast, Accessibility Minute, and ATFAQ or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one-minute-long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something assistive technology based so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fixed without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo. This show comes out weekly.

Josh Anderson:
Our other show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or ATFAQ. On Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of experts including myself, Belva Smith, and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you, so we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions. So remember if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcast to check out, you can check out our sister shows, Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ wherever you get your podcasts, now including Spotify and Amazon music.

Josh Anderson:
One of the cool things that we get to do here at the INDATA project, besides putting on these great podcasts that you all enjoy listening to is full day trainings. Now, of course, with the pandemic and some other things, all these trainings have been moved online, at least for this year and maybe the foreseeable future, but this has also afforded us the opportunity to really be able to present to folks in a lot of different places, not just those that can make it here to Central Indiana. So if there are any listeners out there who are interested in attending any of our full day free trainings, I want to make sure that you knew how to do that.

Josh Anderson:
So what I’ll do is I’ll put a link in the show notes to eastersealstech.com/fulldaytraining and this will bring you to a list of all of our trainings. Now, our next one is coming out on June 10th. So coming up here pretty darn soon, and that training is Mobile Apps for Everyday Life. I’m really excited about this one, mostly because it’s put on by my clinical team. So I’m always excited to hear them present. They’re all wonderful presenters and they do a great job, both live and over Zoom, Which is the way we’re doing pretty much all trainings these days. It seems like have you attended one of these trainings you can get, see, or use. So if you need those for any sort of certification or anything like that, you can pick those up for attending the training. And I do believe the registration is open for that training on June 10th. So make sure to go ahead and register for that as soon as possible.

Josh Anderson:
Other ones coming up, we have assistive technology and a remote supports for independent living coming up August 12th, as well as assistive technology and social isolation on November 4th. Sometime later this year, we’ll also have a list of events coming out for the next year, 2022, which somehow is already a little on the horizon. So we’ll put a link to that page over in the show notes so that you can go check it out, register for future trainings and just see what’s coming up for the full day trainings here at the INDATA project.

Josh Anderson:
So our first story today comes from 9to5mac.com and it’s called Apple reveals new Accessibility features: AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch, eye-tracking on iPad, and more. It’s by Chance Miller. This talks about some different things that are planned to come out to different Apple devices, to really help with accessibility and highlight some different ones here. And I won’t read the whole article to you, but the first one’s really kind of exciting. It talks about the Apple Watch and AssistiveTouch. So it says that Apple Watch is getting new Accessibility features by way of AssistiveTouch. They’ll allow the user to control the device without actually accessing the screen. It’ll use built-in motion sensor to detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity to allow you to control the device that way. So just by the slightest of movements, without even touching the screen, you’ll be able to access and make some changes to that Apple Watch.

Josh Anderson:
Of course, these things aren’t available yet. So not real sure exactly how this will work or how easy it will be to kind of train or teach to use, but very excited to get to try it once that does come out. In the iPad, it says that the iPad OS will soon support third-party eye tracking, allowing full control of the iPad via your eyes. And there’s going to be with different third party things, eye gaze, a different stuff like that, but it’ll make a great way to use the iPad as an assistive communication device. So you think folks usually use eye tracking have to have a kind of a proprietary device, but this should make it a whole lot easier to hook up one of those devices straight into an iPad, and then be able to control that using only your eyes.

Josh Anderson:
Also, the voiceover is going to be adding more features to help individuals navigate their devices and the world around them. Now this will be include more detailed description of people, text, table data, and other information within pictures. So really just making it a lot easier for our visually impaired, and blind friends, and neighbors, to be able to use voiceover, to access their devices a whole lot easier. Some of these features are already built in, but they’re just going to get smarter and a whole lot more accessible. Now, the last thing it mentioned here is support for bi-directional hearing aids in iOS. It’s kind of a big update to the MiFi or MFi, sorry, the MFi hearing aids program for individuals with hearing loss. So really just make those a whole lot more accessible and make it to where you can control a lot more of those settings straight from iOS.

Josh Anderson:
This feature came out, oh, a couple of updates ago. I can’t even remember now and really made it a whole lot easier for certain hearing aids to be controlled by the iOS device, or to be able to use the iOS device as an assistive listening device, using those kinds of hearing aids. There’s not really a date set for any of these updates, but they’re going to soon be part of built-in Accessibility features for Apple. So as those kind of come to market and come to fruition, we’ll try to talk about them a little bit more here on the show and how they can help individuals with disability, but still some very cool things coming out from Apple. We’ll go ahead and put a link to the story over in the show notes.

Josh Anderson:
Communication could be a huge barrier to reaching customers and clients effectively working with coworkers and really reaching anyone who speaks a different language or communicates in a different way. Well, our guest today is Peter Hayes from TranslateLive, and he’s here to talk about their solution to this ongoing challenge. Peter, welcome to the show.

Peter Hays:
Josh, thanks for having me.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. I’m really excited to talk about this technology and how it can help folks, but before we get into that, could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Peter Hays:
Sure. I have been working in the disabilities arena for about a little over a decade. I started out working on military battlefield systems and building global communication networks. And then I moved to Florida to work for a video relay service company, which provides the ability for a person who was deaf to make a telephone call. And this is paid for by the FCC and ended up expanding that technology into over half the Fortune 500 and most of the federal government. And went out on my own to find new ways that we could help people with different disabilities, be able to communicate and started a company called VTCSecure, which is still going strong today. It’s the premier platform around the world for helping people who are deaf and hard of hearing communicate. We did a big contract for the FCC to build open source software for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Peter Hays:
And now that platform is used not only around the world, but it’s even used here in the US today by places like FEMA to access interpreters. We’re creating jobs for deaf and hard of hearing working in deaf to deaf call centers at Google and Comcast. And it’s even now an entire hiring platform for people with disabilities, but in about 2018, I said man, all these technologies it’s always required from the people with disabilities to have the technology. But businesses and governments, they want to be able to communicate with people no matter what their language, no matter what their disability. And so that’s why I created TranslateLive, was to create products that businesses and governments could provide so that they could always communicate with the people that they needed to.

Josh Anderson:
And that’s a great shift from relying on the person to always have that technology to actually kind of put that on the business and the government. So I love that. So you led right into, what is TranslateLive?

Peter Hays:
So TranslateLive is a small company of some of the best engineers around who all have experience working in either language or communication for people with disabilities. And again, its main focus is to really use the latest and greatest in technology in Artificial Intelligence and inexpensive hardware, and combine that with everything we’ve been working on for the last 20 years and all the different technologies into one place, one application, which can be loaded on one piece of hardware that can make it really easy for anyone to communicate. And whether it’s a critical situation or just sitting in dinner and being able to understand what everyone is saying.

Josh Anderson:
Very nice. And I know you’ve got a couple of different kind of solutions available ones, the ILA App and the ILA Pro. Tell us about those.

Peter Hays:
So the software originally, it’s just software and the software can be put on any device, a PC or any smartphone and it comes with a link, just like a Zoom meeting. Anybody else can click on that link. They don’t even need to have the app and they can connect to your phone, that other person will choose their language and their accent of that language. Instantly connect to your device and then you can have a live translated conversation between those two folks anywhere in the world. Now that’s the software and it’s great for working on a construction site, or working with someone in your home that might not speak the same language, or have a different disability. It works great for deaf and hard of hearing, it works great for deaf-blind, it can even connect to a braille display, but when we first started testing this at places like hospitals and government agencies, the problem is you’re still relying on somebody’s device.

Peter Hays:
So the person who walks into the hospital, they might not have a cellphone, their cellphone battery might be dead, their power might be running out, their internet connection might be really terrible. So very soon after this testing, many customer said, “Could you build a device that we don’t have to rely on the other person’s device?” But there were so many advantages from having two devices. Each person gets their own screen, their own microphone, their own speaker and so we created the ILA Pro. And the ILA Pro connects two tablets back to back on a hinge so that anybody can just walk up. It’s always on, it’s always connected. Someone can simply pick their language, pick their accent and immediately start communicating in under five seconds.

Josh Anderson:
Nice, very nice. And you kind of talked about hospitals and those kinds of things. So I do have to ask, is this safe and secure for sensitive conversations and information?

Peter Hays:
So that’s one of the biggest difference between our product and if you’ve ever used some of the free apps out there that most people are familiar with, you check that little box that says they can do anything they want with anything you say on that app. And with our platform, everything is private, nothing is saved. All conversations are fully encrypted to and from the cloud. And as soon as that information shows up on the other device, it is no longer in the cloud. We couldn’t go get it, even if we want to do. And as soon as you end the session on your device, that information, unless you choose to save it, is cleared off the device and out of memory. So, that was one of the most important parts about this product was we had to ensure it was fully secure.

Josh Anderson:
Oh yeah, because I know that’s been a huge challenge in folks I’ve worked with and helping in employment and things like that. Folks with hearing impairments or other kinds of things, just finding something that really kind of fits that need when there’s not an interpreter, when there’s not a video phone, or something kind of available for them. Just because depending on their work, they couldn’t have those conversations because there was nothing out there that could really do that.

Peter Hays:
Exactly. And then you bring up another very interesting point with our devices. One of the things we’ve combined, I mean, the way we sort of talk about it is we’ve combined Artificial Intelligence to do speech to text translation, and text back to speech. We’ve combined organizational intelligence, we can load specific terms and wait words, we can even load entire business processes and have them fully translated. We’re even looking at something now where you can send one of these free spoken phrases, like “What is your registration number?” And an actually sign, a person in sign language will pop up and say that. We’ve also built it for folks with different disabilities, low vision, deaf hard of hearing, deaf-blind, but in the end, if all else fails, you can press a button and bring on a live interpreter. And over 250 languages via audio or video, including sign language.

Josh Anderson:
Oh nice. So, that’s an excellent backup. So if something isn’t quite working or isn’t quite getting that point across, you have that as a backup to make sure that communication’s available.

Peter Hays:
Exactly. And that’s critical because the idea is, none of the other solutions really give you every different tier of tool so that the conversation never, can just end and people don’t know what’s going on. This can always fall back to a human in the worst case scenario.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, yeah. And I like, there at the beginning you kind of talked about businesses and governments. I know so many individuals that because of language barriers or disability have been in trouble with either the law, or taxes, or something of that sort, just because that understanding wasn’t there. That little bit that they just didn’t do something right, because well, they didn’t know and they didn’t understand. So I liked that, you said, this is a great solution for them to be able to communicate with folks.

Peter Hays:
Great, you brought that up. One of the things, we had actually launched in 2020. In January of 2020 we had one CES, 2020s Most Innovative Product award for people with disabilities. It was, they gave us a… they paid for our booth and all expenses paid to really, we launched a product there to a lot of fanfare and we immediately sold out and couldn’t get more because of COVID. So there was a real slowdown in the business. But during that time, we won a contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard. And what we’re building now, and I’m holding a prototype in my hand is a miniature version of the ILA Pro. It’s basically made out of two military grade cellphones that are waterproof, dustproof, you can drop them from 10 feet onto a quarter inch steel and won’t break.

Peter Hays:
And these will be used hopefully in the future for Etsy rescues and boat boardings. And we’re going to be showing it to several police departments. So then an officer can carry this device and no matter what, we’ll always be able to communicate with the person and we will be able to preload phrases, Miranda rights, or “Are you okay?”, “Is everybody safe?” And that will not only be perfectly translated into each language, but again, you’ll also be able to reach an interpreter from the device. And even if you don’t have any network connectivity at all, that version of the ILA will be able to work completely offline with no internet connectivity at all. And so this will give police the opportunity to always be able to communicate with folks. There’s always been serious issues, language, people who are speaking sign language or don’t understand what the police are saying. This happens all the time and this will give them the capability to communicate the folks.

Josh Anderson:
That’s excellent. That makes just a huge, huge difference. Well, Peter, you kind of brought these up a little bit, but can you tell me a story about a situation where this has been used and how it’s just made a huge difference in someone’s life?

Peter Hays:
There’s been several. I mean, I know it’s used at the Cancer Institute in Korea. There are so many people from foreign countries that come there for different health related things, and they’re able to instantly communicate. We had a police department the other day, who’s using one of these in California and somebody came in and she was speaking Hindi and she could not communicate with anyone. And the detectives were trying to figure out, oh, where’s the phone number to call the interpreter? It was taking many minutes for the interpreter come on. They pulled the device out and immediately took a full statement from the woman. She was able to report the crime. Everything worked perfectly well. And they got really excited about how well it worked. And they’ve invited me to present to all of the folks in law enforcement in the entire County, because it was so useful in that sense.

Peter Hays:
Another great story is there’s a woman in Miami who lost her hearing. She’s a doctor, lost her hearing, no way to communicate. She absolutely loves this product. She wrote a really cool thing the other day that we wanted to post about how she can now communicate at the dinner table with friends. People can connect remotely and she can just instantly communicate with them. And it’s really given her life back.

Peter Hays:
And we’re really looking forward to, we’ve been working with the Helen Keller Institute. We’re really excited about the deaf-blind capability coming up. It will be potentially life-changing for the deaf-blind, the software where connect right to a braille display, a deaf-blind person can wear a name tag. Hi, my name is Peter. If you’d like to communicate with me, go to 123ila.com and enter Peter. Anyone from any browser on any device can do that. They pick their language, they start speaking. It shows up on the braille display. The deaf-blind person can type back. It shows up to the hearing person. They can see and speaks out loud to them. So it’ll allow a deaf-blind person to instantly communicate with anyone with a smartphone in person or remotely without having to share a phone number completely securely and completely instantly.

Josh Anderson:
Wow. Because I know we’ve worked with deaf-blind individuals for distance communication, email, text messaging, things like that. But face to face was, I mean, unless you had a deaf-blind interpreter was wasn’t impossible, the independently that couldn’t really be done. So, that is awesome, that is beautiful.

Peter Hays:
Absolutely. We’re also looking now to add the technology to existing video relay service. So for deaf-blind individuals that use sign language to communicate, they use a braille display to receive but they sign. They can call in the video relay service, the interpreter can then connect to back to their braille display. So then whatever the interpreter says shows up on the braille display, but then the deaf-blind person can use sign language to communicate back to the interpreter, allowing them to use video relay service. So we’re really trying to find all these different areas where this can really help.

Josh Anderson:
Well. And a lot of those Peter probably comes from your background, but I like the way you’re not trying to, for lack of a better term, pigeonhole people into making them communicate in a way that works for the device. You’re kind of trying to take all the different way people communicate and allowing them to do that, to communicate.

Peter Hays:
Exactly. And there’s so many cool technologies coming up. There’s a, Intel is working on one where that you can read sign language using AI. There’s another company called Voiceitt that is creating speech to text engines for people with speech disabilities, who’ve had a stroke or Parkinson’s, normal speech detects doesn’t work for those individuals. They’re building those engines. And the beauty about the way we’ve created this product is we can add all of those capabilities as time goes on. People don’t have to change out the hardware. The software will just update automatically in the cloud and we’ll be able to add these capabilities up to what people already have. And the goal was to really include everybody and the way they communicate.

Josh Anderson:
That is excellent. Well, Peter, if our listeners want to find out more about TranslateLive, what’s the best way form to do that?

Peter Hays:
They can go to www.translatelive.com and definitely reach out to us. We have a sales team out there who’s just trying to get the word out to let people know about this technology. One thing we haven’t done, we have a lot of people, very interested in investment in to TranslateLive, especially from what we’ve done. But so far it’s all been self-funded because we want to make sure this technology gets out there to the people that need it first. And that organizations and governments had a chance to use it. We want to make sure that it’s not just about the money and it’s also why we made the technology extremely affordable. We’re talking about a dollar a day. And there are other software platforms out there that do one tenth of what our sales and charge three times as much. So what we’ve tried to do is combine them all into affordable hardware and a service agreement, the service charge of a dollar a day.

Josh Anderson:
Nice. And as you said, it can just open up the doors for so many people with or without disabilities. And I mean, really, if you think, no matter, unless you speak every language in the world, it can definitely open up access to you in some way, shape, or form.

Peter Hays:
Well. And I’m just, you just reminded me of one of the best examples we just sent. ILA Pros are now being used at vaccine distribution sites. So we set up all of the free spoken phrases, “Are you allergic to anything?” All those different questions and statements we had professionally translated into multiple languages, loaded them on the device, and now when people walk up at the vaccine distribution site and need to be able to communicate, they can instantly do it in any of the languages. And because we can also make a video call to femavri.com at FEMA sites, which provides direct sign language interpreters for anyone showing up to a FEMA location to get a vaccine. So now again, in the most important thing facing the world right now is getting everybody vaccinated. This ensures that you can communicate with people before they even show up and when they show up in any way that is needed. And so if they’ve only been out there a couple of weeks, a few vaccine sites are already getting a lot of amazing feedback of how helpful they are.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. Yeah. It’s amazing. Just being able to communicate in the language or in the way that your most comfortable can really just, oh, it opens up so many doors for individuals.

Peter Hays:
Absolutely.

Josh Anderson:
It really, really does. Well, Peter, thank you so much for coming on today, telling us all about TranslateLive. I can’t wait and I figured its something I’m probably going to start seeing more and more in places or at least I definitely hope that I do.

Peter Hays:
And thank you again so much for having me Josh and what you guys do is so great and we’re just excited to be able to even be on your website. So thank you for the time.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. Thanks again. Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? If you do, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAproject, or check us out on Facebook. Are you looking for a transcript or show notes? Head on over to our website at www.eastersealstech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. For more shows like this, plus so much more, head over to accessibilitychannel.com. The views expressed by our guests are not necessarily that of this host or the INDATA project. This has been your Assistive Technology Update. I’m Josh Anderson, with the INDATA project at Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis, Indiana. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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