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Google Glass app subtitles conversations

gadgets Updated: Oct 03, 2014 14:59 IST

Researchers at the George Institute of Technology have developed a clever use for Google's smart headset that provides a live, text transcription when someone speaks.

This could be a huge benefit not just for the hard of hearing, but for anyone attempting to have a chat in an incredibly noisy environment like a diner at lunchtime, or of course for anyone of any age and of any hearing level trying to watch a mumblecore film (at home obviously, as most cinema chains have been quick to outlaw smartglasses).

The app builds on one of Google's key technological strengths -- voice recognition -- and eliminates one of Google Glass's biggest weaknesses -- the quality of its integrated microphone.

Instead of relying on the headset's mic, the free app, called Captioning on Glass, turns the wearer's connected smartphone into the sound receiver. This has two benefits: first it's a much better microphone; and second it can be positioned closer to the person speaking because it is connected to Google Glass wirelessly.

To use it, all you have to do is say "Ok Glass, recognize this" and hold the smartphone close to the person you're speaking to and captions will start to appear.
"This system allows wearers like me to focus on the speaker's lips and facial gestures," project member Professor Jim Foley told CNET. "If hard-of-hearing people understand the speech, the conversation can continue immediately without waiting for the caption. However, if I miss a word, I can glance at the transcription, get the word or two I need and get back into the conversation."

Providing live subtitles of what a person is saying in the language in which he or she is saying it is just the start. The team is now looking to develop the app so that it can provide real-time written translations.

But that's for the future. For now the free, English-only captioning app can be downloaded at