The start-up RogerVoice offers a range of ways for people with hearing difficulties to communicate via phone. The app of the same name relies on voice recognition software to caption conversations on a smartphone screen. The solution is used all over the word. It is now available in France with a video cue in sign language. Its founder, Olivier Jeannel, explains how the idea, which was firstly personal, now simplifies the life of thousands of people every day.
“Answering phone calls, talking to each other, chatting by phone… these are daily actions for many. However, people who are deaf or hard of hearing can really struggle when it comes to making or receiving calls. It’s the case for 500,000 people in France.
I created RogerVoice (opens in a new window)– the business and application – to make life easier by breaking down communication barriers.
Having lost much of my hearing since the age of two, I set out on this bold project because I really believe that digital tools are a great progress lever and capable of solving large-scale limitations for people like me.
The advantages of voice recognition are now in our hands thanks to a smartphone, something that didn’t escape me when I worked at Orange.
So I began the project as a personal challenge to take advantage of the innovations in the mobile telecoms sector and Artificial Intelligence.
By holding your phone in front of you, like a TV screen with subtitles, the person using the Roger Voice application can read a caption of the speaker’s words and then answer them. If they have trouble speaking they can also compose a written message that can be converted into a voice synthesis. You can also use sign language. When you make a call, one of our interpreters can join via video to translate the discussion live between the person with the hearing difficulty and the other speaker.
The RogerVoice application offers transcripts in a hundred languages, because hearing difficulties don’t have any borders! RogerVoice makes life easier for thousands of people in France and abroad and I’m proud to support them with our team.
I really believe that the future is brighter thanks to the opportunities offered by digital tools. We’re all being put to the test in some way by our environment: physical, sensory or other. Addressing challenges for people with disabilities is a real area for innovation. When it comes to launching a new idea that can help solve a world problem, the same rules apply, disabled or not: it’s about proofs, checking your project meets a need with enough potential and adapting. In any case, don’t hesitate about starting!”