How frustrating it must be to not be able to speak out our thoughts or, rather, speak at all. People with speech impairment have to deal with this every single day. Arsh Shah Dilbagi wanted to make life a little easier for them. At just 16 years of age, he has invented the only Augmentative and Alternative Communication device in the world that uses breath as the way of interaction. Read about this amazing invention.
When school-goers talk about change, we often assume they are talking about their hobbies, areas of interest, studying schedule or a career path. But when this 16-year-old talks about change, he means changing the lives of people on a larger scale.
Arsh Shah Dilbagi, a student from Delhi, invented TALK, an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Device that helps people with developmental disabilities like Locked-In Syndrome, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease, those with speech impairments like Dysarthia and even Mutes, to communicate in a normal form of speech.
“I wanted to bring about change and develop something that could be used to help mankind. TALK is something I believe in and hope it will change the lives of those who need it,” Dilbagi says.
Its simple design, affordability and portability are what make TALK unique. TALK is the only AAC Device in the world which uses breath as the way of interaction. The technology uses the variations in a person’s breath and helps him or her to dictate letters, which are further combined and synthesized as sentences. The device is so compact that it fits into your pocket.
TALK was selected as one of the Top 15 Projects of Google Science Fair 2014, and Dilbagi will be going to the Google headquarters in Mountain View, USA this month to present his idea to a larger audience.
How does TALK work?
Unlike other AAC devices, TALK doesn’t restrict users to a wheelchair, which makes it more comfortable and accessible. TALK has nine different voices for different genders and age groups.
“The users do not have to learn complicated matrix maps to select the right symbols for synthesizing speech. Neither do they have to strain their eyes by gazing over the screen to express themselves,” Dilbagi says.
It takes only 0.4 sec to dictate ‘E’ and 0.8 sec to dictate ‘A’ using TALK, which makes it one of the fastest AAC devices. The user has to place the sensor under the nose and make shorter and longer exhales to send dots and dashes which later get converted into words and phrases.
It works in two modes – Communication mode and Command mode. Using the Command Mode, the user can speak out predefined commands like W – ‘Water’. The Communication Mode helps in encoding and speaking out commonly used phrases. For instance, dictating “HH” can speak out “Hello, How are you?”
TALK is available at a cost of $199 which includes the AAC device and the earclip. You can also purchase just the earclip for $99 and use it with existing AAC devices.
Always an “A” grader in class who excelled in academic papers, Dilbagi has immense interest in robotics, computers, photography and 3D design. “It was a challenge to manage exams, school, family and my TALK project at the same time. But I managed somehow as I was passionate towards my invention,” he says.
Dilbagi wants to take his initiative forward and is looking to launch his working prototype in the market. Apart from TALK, Dilbagi wants to continue working for a cause that could help people at large.
“I want to do something meaningful that could change lives and help those in need. There is no age limit to your dreams. If you are passionate enough, you can do wonders,” the young genius says.
Adamant on making lives easier for over 100 million people in the world who suffer from speech impairment, Dilbagi wants to expand the initiative with time. At present, he has pledged to give away one free device to someone in need for every 3 devices sold. Watch him talk about TALK in this video below:
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Want to help Arsh Shah Dilbagi? Help him raise funds for his project. Go through his campaign page here.