SpeakSee, the device and a Q&A with Co-Founder Jari Hazelebach

By Keegan Noxell

SpeakSee is an assistive technology device that looks to transcribe speech to text in real time. It has been gaining traction in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community following a very successful Indiegogo campaign.

How it works

SpeakSee captures the speech in conversations and transcribes it into text via an intelligent system of microphones. The application will be available for the web browser on smartphones, tablets and laptops. Therefore, allowing those with hearing loss to read what is being said in real time.

Using an array of sensors, the microphone intelligently isolates and captures speech from the user and rejects noise from other sources and will have the capability to support up to nine (9) microphones in one setting.

The dock receives wireless audio signals from the microphones, processes conversational data and sends the audio data to your device of choice for transcription. It also serves as the storage and charging hub for the microphones.

The benefits of SpeakSee

The device will offer a new form of communication to those with hearing loss, while complementing existing technology we may already be using such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant (CI) and offers versatility in the sense it can be used in the workplace, school and while at home or in social settings. It is particularly designed to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing in group conversations, which are often most challenging.

A Q&A with Co-Founder Jari Hazelebach

I spoke with the CEO of SpeakSee and inquired about the motivation for developing this device and the obstacles the company has had to overcome:

1) What was your motivation for developing the SpeakSee device?
Both my parents are deaf. Throughout my youth I saw the communication challenges that my parents faced every day. Particularly in groups, like during family dinners, I saw them often isolated. My father didn’t have the same opportunities to get promotions at work in comparison to his hearing colleagues, because he couldn’t make phone calls or follow business meetings.

2) What has been the biggest surprise for you since developing the idea?
I was very positively surprised by the overwhelming interest coming from not only consumers, but also businesses, educational institutions and governments after launching our idea on Indiegogo. It is great to see the opportunities to leverage technology to create an inclusive environment and organization.

3) What has been the biggest challenge for SpeakSee since inception?
The biggest challenge was the first stage of the company. We had very limited resources and it was just me and my co-founder and CTO Marcel van der Ven moving this forward. It took quite some time to develop our first proof-of-concept, but with enough perseverance we made it work. I’m very grateful for having such a dedicated co-founder on board.