Teen's Invention Could Revolutionize the Way People With Disabilities Communicate

When a 16-year-old recognized a problem with the communication technology used by people with disabilities like locked-in syndrome, he set out to fix it. Now, thanks to Google, he’s close to succeeding.

Arsh Shah Dilbagi, from Panipat, India, is one of Google’s 18 finalists in its Global Science Fair. The company holds the annual science and technology competition for individuals and teams ages 13 to 18. The winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship from Google to pursue the submitted invention.

Dilbagi, who goes by the nickname “Robo,” is a robotics enthusiast with a bevy of other high-tech interests. In the past, he’s developed a home automation system, a WordPress plug-in and a quizzing social network, according to his Google Science Fair proposal. His submission is a device called “Talk.”

“Talk” is an augmentative and alternative communication device (ACC). ACC devices are used by people with various disabilities or disorders who need assistance to speak. Unlike other ACC devices, Dilbagi’s creation has two things going for it: speed and affordability.

“Statistics have shown that developmental disabilities are likely to be higher in areas of poverty, and available AAC devices costs thousands of dollars, making them out of reach of the most in need,” his proposal reads.

“Talk” is cheap.

The device deciphers two distinct breaths and translates them into Morse code. The code is then instantly translated into one of nine voice options. He believes that the simplicity behind “Talk” will make it three times faster than competitors. It will also be the affordable option for the 1.4 percent of the world’s population who require an ACC device, according to the video below.

While some ACC machines rely on eye movement or a still-operating muscle, “Talk’s” functionality works for anyone who can breathe into it. The device can translate speech in real time.

“’Talk’ will definitely make the world a better place to live for people with developmental disabilities and speech impairments by enabling them to communicate and express themselves like never before,” Dilbagi says in the video below.

Google will choose the winner of the competition later in Sept.

h/t Business Insider

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