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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.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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