If you don’t have a deaf person in your life or if you’re not aware of the challenges they face, it might surprise you to know that deaf children often have a difficult time in learning to read. This is especially challenging if they are born to hearing parents, which is 90% of the time, according to recent statistics. Currently, there are 32 million deaf children around the world and Huawei, through the power of Artificial Intelligence, wants to help them out through their new app called StorySign.
The app is meant to be used by parents, guardians, and teachers to help deaf children how to read and it is powered by AI. Using it is pretty easy. Just open the app and click on the selected book from the StorySign library. The thing is though you still need to have the physical book with you. Hold the phone up to the words on the page and the AI avatar Star, will then sign the words as the printed words are highlighted.
Star was designed by Aardman Animations and the entire project was supported by various charities including the European Union of the Deaf and the British Dead Association. They also partnered with Penguin Random House so they can include classic children’s books for every language supported, including (British, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Irish, Belgian Flemish, Swiss-German).
Aardman Animations used motion capture technology so that Star’s facial expressions and hands are able to fully communicate the “perfect” sign language. She is presented as an older sibling or friend that will help them read and understand the book. This way, not only are the deaf children learning to read, but they are also entertained.
The StorySign app is available at the Google Play Store or the Huawei AppGallery for free. It can run on other non-Huawei Android devices as well although they say that using a Huawei smartphone will give you better word recognition, better accuracy and faster loading speeds.