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The Hindu
The Hindu
Sathish G. T.

Shivamogga engineers develop app that converts handwriting into speech to help people with disability

Akshay V. Nayak and Karthik B.S., two BE graduates, once met a person who was struggling to speak after undergoing tracheostomy. Manjappa, an ex-serviceman from Birur, often scribbled on a slate to convey what he wanted to say. This drove the young graduates to work on an application that could help people with speech and hearing impairment. And the result is Writell, an application that translates writing into speech.

“There are applications that convert typed text into speech. But our application, Writell, is a real-time handwriting-to-speech translation app, which makes communication accessible and inclusive,” said Mr. Nayak, one of the app developers. The application helps convert handwriting in English, Kannada, and eight other Indian languages into speech.

Free Android app

The application was launched for Android users on September 21 for free. So far, around 700 people have downloaded it. “We are getting initial feedback from our target group. They are finding it useful and want it to include more options like recording the speech and sharing the same through other messaging applications. We are working on developing it further,” said Karthik.

Mr. Nayak and Mr. Karthik are residents of Shivamogga and were classmates while studying BE in Computer Sciences at NIE in Mysuru. They completed the course in 2022. As students, they got a project sponsored by AI and Robotics Technology Park (ARTPARK), an organisation promoted by the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru to work on developing hand gloves that help convert sign language into speech. With two other friends, Akshay Ganger and Sudhanva, they developed gloves with sensors that grasp the movement of hands. The signs are converted into speech on the mobile linked to the gloves. “As of now, the gloves can translate common signs that speech and hearing impaired people use,” said Mr. Nayak.

Launch of startup

The duo completed the course and worked for IT companies before deciding to quit their jobs earlier this year to launch a startup, Unriddled Technologies. Through the startup, they released the mobile application. The young engineers also spent money from their own pockets to develop the application. “We quit out jobs to launch our own startup. Our families stood by us. We are hopeful of getting good support for our work,” said Mr. Nayak.

They spent many days with people affected by speech and hearing impairments in Mysuru and Bengaluru and other places to understand their requirements. They are hopeful that the app will reach many members of the community and help them communicate with others easily. 

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