Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to play a significant part in China’s battle against poverty and will also benefit the hard of hearing community in an era of compulsory mask-wearing, says iFlytek, a Chinese speech-to-text, translation and online-education technologies company.
Chairman, Liu Qingfeng, says his company, along with other prominent IT giants in China, has the necessary tools to rebalance resource distribution and boost employment nationwide.
The state-owned media outlet, China Daily, reported that iFlytek is championing AI which could promote social wellness in Asia’s largest nation, home to more than half a billion people living outside of its major economic hubs. One of the ways in which the company’s AI-powered tools can help communities is through reading aloud for the blind and auto transcribing for the hearing-impaired.
The deaf and hard-of-hearing have expressed concern that during the COVID-19 pandemic the ability to lipread friends, family, essential services employees and news reporters has been nearly impossible as lips are obscured by protective masks.
Chris Soukup, CEO of Communication Service of the Deaf, told website Cheddar, the hard-of-hearing and the deaf community are feeling increasingly isolated owing to lockdown and quarantining measures in effect in large pockets of the globe.
iFlytek’s AI-powered voice transcriber, Smart Recording Pen 1A, could help the deaf and hard of hearing as it reportedly takes five minutes to auto-transcribe an hour of audio and is able it transcribe bilingual recordings.
The small, 30g, 32GB device is not shaped like a pen at all, but rather a traditional tape recorder in a design hat tip to its technological ancestor. The device supports 12 major Chinese dialects and 10 international languages including English, Spanish and Japanese.
In addition, the company has offered its online teaching platforms and remote diagnostic and treatment tools to clinics at some of China’s most rural and isolated communities, notably Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou.