Identity

Someone has created a tool that makes captions for deaf people in real world conversations

Company develops an app that transcribes speech into text that follows the speaker.

Someone has created a tool that makes captions for deaf people in real world conversations

Live-captioning technology is gaining ground, an exciting development for the hard of hearing.

Captions are a daily part of most people’s lives even if you don't always realize it. On social media, captions are sometimes automatically generated for videos or you can simply go into your settings to turn them on. These options are designed to be more inclusive, and people that are hard of hearing or deaf need them on videos to understand what's being said. The fact that they’re more widely available is great news.

One developer wanted to take captions a step further, into the real world. Captions on televisions or videos playing on your device's screen are great, but wouldn’t it be helpful to have the ability to turn them on while you’re having an actual conversation? A video posted online by Paul Mealy, product design leadership at Meta, shows a new augmented reality (AR) tool that could be a game changer for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Augmented reality is something that people are accustomed to through video games like Halo, the first-person game that has a pop-up display showing information about the player's surroundings.


Like the video game, the real-time live-captioning technology uses augmented reality to display captions on top of the person speaking via wearables. The captions can even follow the speaker around and work in crowded spaces, focusing only on the identified speaker's voice. Mealy says the prototype uses directional microphones, where speech is recorded and converted to live text and attached to the person speaking via body tracking in AR. “One of the issues the deaf and hard of hearing have had to deal with during the pandemic is masks obscuring facial expressions, which often provide cues to what a person is saying," he says. "By utilizing captioning, we can help facilitate communication regardless of if the user's face is covered.” According to Mealy, the prototype runs on mobile platforms, but performs best on wearable computing devices such as Microsoft’s HaloLens and other hands-free wearable devices.

The post showing Mealy testing out the prototype has been shared several times across social media, with Pascal Bornet, the chief data officer of Aera Technology, sharing it with his more than 40,000 Twitter followers. Comments on the posts are positive in nature and filled with excitement about the potential benefits. Several commenters said the technology is “amazing” while some had handy tips like allowing the user to make the text stationary instead of staying with the person. Another advised that the text be placed at the side of the screen with an arrow prompting the user to look toward the text. The excitement from the commenters can be felt through the screen.

It’s not clear from the post when this technology will be available commercially, but it’s clear that when it is available it will give deaf and hard of hearing people much more accommodations to navigate hearing spaces. If people could learn ASL throughout their school years as a standard education course as well as having access to this new technology, the world would be so much more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. It's wonderful that people like Mealy are working to do their part.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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