TalkRocket Go and TalkRocket Go Français make assistive technologies accessible to wider user base
It's one small step for award-winning company MyVoice, one giant leap for people with speech disabilities around the world as the start-up launches the follow-up to its original assistive app. Sporting a new name, TalkRocket Go, this app is more robust, more wheelchair-friendly, more cost effective, more accessible and now in French, it’s more linguistically diverse. Currently available in the Apple App Store for $99, TalkRocket Go was officially announced at the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication’s (ISAAC’s) biennial conference in Pittsburgh.
Like its predecessor, TalkRocket Go uses voice synthesis technology to provide lifelike verbal communication for people with disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Parkinson's disease, and many others. Unlike the expensive (as much as $20,000) and complicated communication aids like the one used by physicist Stephen Hawking, TalkRocket Go uses devices like iPads to provide accessible support people with disabilities. The new app even lets users connect buttons and switches, including those on wheelchairs, to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod, and then use those controls to speak words and phrases out loud.
TalkRocket Go builds upon MyVoice's groundbreaking technologies including “Locabularies” that use GPS to offer useful phrases based on a user's location; Supporter Studio, an online tool that lets families, teachers and therapists work together to customize users' pictures and vocabulary; Swipe Storytelling, a flip-book-style feature that makes it easy to tell stories and practise life skills; and Full-Screen Scanning, which turns the whole touchscreen into one big button for better use by those with physical impairments.
Assistive apps are rarely developed in French, which is why MyVoice has released TalkRocket Go Français. With all the major functionality of its English counterpart, this app will give an estimated 1.5 million Francophones with speech disabilities in Canada, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and several African Francophone countries an effective and affordable option for verbal communication.
MyVoice is helmed by 25-year-old entrepreneur Alex Levy, who developed the technology with co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Aakash Sahney and a group of fellow students while at the University of Toronto. He pitched his idea for a location-aware speech aid in Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE’s) Discovery Student Video Competition in 2010, taking home first place. He then received Market Readiness funding, and in 2011, in addition to launching MyVoice and picking up the Martin Walmsley Fellowship, Alex also earned the title of Entrepreneur of the Year from Profit Magazine. In January, he was named one of the Toronto Star’s 12 to watch in 2012 and his MyVoice app reached 10,000 users in 30 countries.
“Watching users learn and grow with MyVoice since our first product launch in April 2011 has been simply incredible,” said Alex Levy, MyVoice's CEO. “This isn't just innovative technology, it's a force for social good. We’re on a mission to empower families around the world by offering them the best tools for success. It's amazing what a person can express when they finally get the right tools in their hands.”