Monday, May 23, 2011
So this story is a bit of a heart grabber, but it's also a compliment to an app development company and a call to investors to reach out and corner these people and invest in them. In fact, it's a call out to Apple to invest in them to help them achieve some amazing things. I know there are some at Apple who read my postings, may this be one of them. These guys are doing some amazing stuff.
And now a little soul bearing. My mother has dementia. She's 100% Italian. She's reverted back to speaking her native language after over 50 years of English and Italian. Recently my father was hospitalized and I went to spend some time with my Mother to watch over her. I don't speak Italian so this is an interesting story. I was talking to her in English and wondering how I would explain to her that Dad was in the hospital.
I tried using Google's Translate program which is great, but it does not have a voice attached to it. I can type 110 wpm on the keyboard, but after reading my typing for a few minutes she got bored. Plus when driving you can't type so it's self-defeating. No thanks.
As we were walking a thought came up me of "I wonder if anyone has a translation app that can go from English to Italian?" It turns out there are a couple out there. Now I needed more than text to text, I needed the integration of a voice to allow it to connect with Mom since she's not much into reading.
And then I found it. FutureApps iSpeak Italian. Not only does it translate from English To Italian, it does the Reverse, AND it SPEAKS IT TOO!! So I could say something to my Mother in English and when she did not respond, I could type it in English, press a button to translate it to Italian, and then let the app SPEAK to her and she would GET what I was trying to tell her.
icon for the app
Literally every 5-10 minutes she would say to me "Where's Papa?" (in Italian). I would type to her "He's in the hospital" in English and click the translate button "lui é in ospedale" it would come up on the screen and then I'd click the SPEAK IT! Button and the voice of an italian sounding woman would come from the iPhone 4 and my Mom's face would light up.
I was also showing her a picture of my father laying in the bed injured in the hospital. Visual clues and vocal clues it turns out are helpful to people suffering from dementia. "We must go to him" she would say. We'd jump in the car and drive literally 5 minutes to the local hospital.
By the time we'd arrived at the hospital she'd ask "Why are we here? Where's Papa?". Because iSpeak Italian offers the ability to save what you've typed in, I could recall a statement and it would speak to her. She'd nod in understanding and we'd make our way to my Dad's room in the hospital where Mom could be with him. For 5 days we did this.
I was able to update her on his condition, let her know when we had to leave, and go eat, drink water, do other things that had to be done, all in her native language. Like walking around with a human translator in my back pocket! The cost? $1.99
Now, if you ask me what this was worth to me in this experience? PRICELESS. Life Saving. Stress Relieving.
Here's what the voice sounds like: (borrowed from FutureApps website)
So, here's where the call to investors and Apple comes in, and I know these guys have to be working on this.
This app will take text and turn it into translated text. It will take the translated text and speak it. What it will NOT do yet is to take the incoming responses from the person you are providing the translated text to, and intake that, translate it from Italian into English and speak it to you.
I really want that to happen. It may not happen in the time that my Mother remains on this Earth, but if there's something I could wish for, this would be it. I miss hearing her speaking English, and I was a damned fool to never learn to speak more than a few choice words in Italian. It now pains me to not be able to speak with my Mother. The compute power in the iPhone 4 and forthcoming products from Apple can accomplish this kind of speech synthesis. There just needs to be some funds I am sure to help in the development of that. That's what I would encourage investors looking for something viable to invest in...take a peek at the developers of these speech apps. They're working on tools that help mend boundaries instilled on us by life. It's a BIG deal.
This app is DocMurdock APPROVED & RECOMMENDED & Available on the AppStore. Search for iSpeak Italian
The app is made by: http://www.future-apps.net
Thanks for taking time to read.
Michael Murdock, CEO