April 29, 2020 @ 12:52 by Richard Dawson
Darlington-based digital company, Desifa, has created a new app to improve virtual communication for those with hearing difficulties.
Combining video with real time automated transcription, Desifa’s intercontinental closed-caption app is proving particularly helpful through the COVID-19 lockdown.
In the last two weeks, it has been downloaded in countries as far away as Australia and the US.
Described as FaceTime with live subtitles, the app allows users to access sound, subtitles, speech reading and sign language to support them in making telephone calls.
Desifa was founded by Martin Philips and Steve Tinkler in 2018, with the support of Digital City and its accelerator programme.
The company has the ambition to harness smart technology to improve telephone conversations and make them more accessible.
The idea for HearClear was prompted by Martin’s wife, who has hearing difficulties when on the phone.
The Digital City accelerator, a Teesside University-led initiative, provided coaching, connections and access to funding for Desifa to fast-track the development of the app.
Martin said: “We have a simple ambition to help half a billion people world-wide, including the 11 million people in the UK with hearing loss who have been left behind by the technology that has revolutionised the way the rest of us live our lives.
“We want to enable everyone to stay in touch with family, friends and services.
“It’s a versatile app that’s needed now more than ever, first-and-foremost for loved ones to stay in touch throughout the social distancing measures.
“It can also help businesses and employers to adjust so that they can better connect with all their customers and staff.”
HearClear is available to download on iOS, with plans underway to make the app accessible to Android users in the coming months.