Provide a one-line summary of your solution.
Signa is an app that allows the user (deaf) to communicate with others (non deaf). SignaPlay is an app that teaches sign languages to anyone with the help of AI
What specific problem are you trying to solve?
In Mexico and the rest of LatinAmerica, hearing and speech impaired people are highly exposed to language deprivation syndrome in the early childhood stages of cognitive development, this is due to that only 12% of deaf children parents know sign language. The children grows ignorant if doesn't have the chance to receive the cognitive stimulations or to attend to a special education school.
Deaf people are also segregated from society by the lack of communication between them and their hearing counterparts, almost 100% of deaf people in low-middle income countries, whom learnt a sign language either by having the chance of had received formal education or by being taught by deaf friends, use sign language only with their main social circle. Daily situations such as ordering food in a restaurant, asking for directions in the street or answering questions in a medical consultation are huge challenges for them and miscommunication takes place all the time, reducing their quality of life notoriously.
Most importantly, in comparison with hearing people, deaf people can't enjoy easy natural learned spoken primary language, they have to thrive life with sign language and the barriers of non communicating their needs, ideas and concerns in an oral society, we can synthesise that the biggest problems faced by the deaf community in LMIC are: not receiving an education and the lack of communication with their hearing counterparts.
The World Federation of the Deaf, reports that there're around 72 million deaf people around the world. In Mexico, there's around 1 million, and in our community (Jocotepec, Jalisco) there's 32 deaf people in the ages of 4 - 68. Some of them didn't have the chance of learning Mexican Sign Language so they communicate with home signs made by themselves and their family, some of them, the younger ones did have the chance of receive an education, but they struggle a lot learning because special education in Mexico and LatinAmerica is relatively in an early stage of development. Even none of those schooled had the opportunity to attend to university or have a professional career, and all of them live deprived from society, being victims of Audism which is the form of discrimination against deaf people.
The consequences of Audism and language barriers are tremendously significant to the deaf community quality of life: Language Deprivation Syndrome can lead to brain damage and bad cognitive development in general. Social deprivation and the lack of education will lead to have less access to a greater salary and thus poor quality of life. Deaf people doesn't have access to concise and efficient communication in LATAM health systems, they visit more often the emergency room in comparison with hearing people. They also suffer more from cardiovascular deceases, testicular cancer and labour complications, this due to the lack of access to critical health information.
What is your solution?
We use digital tools to serve the deaf community needs.
Signa is a wearable device app, which allows the interlocution between sign language users and non deaf people that doesn't know how to sign.
Signa translates sign language (trough motion and muscle biopotential electric activity) to speech (audio from the device). The way this works is with the implementation of a predictive machine learning model within the device, once the user presses a button, the device will sample the data continuously from the sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer and EMG) and trough a time window, the model predicts the signs the user just performed almost in real time, then, the predictions are concatenated and are the input to another model, this time using NLP to make an accurate and more rich translation, finally the output sentence is then reproduced as audio within the device for the hearing counterpart to listen to. Allowing the user to communicate in its natural language with them.
The communication process is then closed by implementing a feature which converts audio to text, allowing the deaf user to read in the device's display what the hearing counterpart just said to them. Also notifies the user when there was a sound of some thing that could potentially harm themself, like alarms, fire or animals.
SignaPlay is an education app that teaches sign languages to anyone, deaf or non deaf. Trough levels of knowledge and semantic and grammatical groups this app puts the acquisition of sign language as first language for young deaf children.
Trough animated videos teaches the user how to perform the signs, using computer vision, the app keeps track of the correct performance of the signs by the user. This is a great tool for special education teachers and for parents who doesn't know sign language
Who does your solution serve? In what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our target population is the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, specifically in Mexico and Latin America. This population is currently underserved in terms of communication and access to information. Many deaf individuals in these countries do not have access to sign language or formal education, which leads to a lack of cognitive stimulation and poor cognitive development. Additionally, they often face barriers in daily communication with hearing individuals, which leads to isolation and difficulty in accessing information, services, and opportunities.
This population also has limited access to health information and services, which can lead to poor health outcomes. For example, they may have difficulty communicating with healthcare providers, which can lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment.
Our solution addresses these needs by providing a wearable device app that translates sign language to speech and sound to text, allowing deaf individuals to communicate with others seamlessly and access information without barriers. This empowers the deaf and hard-of-hearing community by providing them with the tools they need to communicate effectively, access information, and participate fully in society. This improves their overall health and well-being, by reducing isolation and increasing social connectedness, and it also helps to improve their education and job opportunities.
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Our team is composed of experienced professionals with a range of skills and expertise that uniquely positions us to deliver our solution and solve the problem faced by the deaf community.
Our team includes individuals with backgrounds in technology, engineering, and computer science, who have experience in developing embedded systems and machine learning models. This expertise enables us to create a cutting-edge solution that effectively translates sign language to speech and sound to text.
Our team also includes individuals with expertise in special education and disability studies, who have experience working with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. This expertise enables us to understand the unique needs and experiences of this population, and to design a solution that effectively addresses their specific needs.
Additionally, some members of our team are part of the deaf community or have had personal experiences with deaf relatives, this allows us to empathize with the struggles and barriers faced by the population we are serving. This personal experience gives us a deep understanding of the problem, and the ability to create a solution that is truly responsive to the needs of the community. Our team is also representative of the population we serve, including members of the deaf community, and individuals with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. This diversity ensures that our solution is inclusive and considers the perspectives and needs of all members of the community.
In summary, our team's combination of technical expertise, experience working with the deaf community, personal experiences and diversity, uniquely positions us to deliver a solution that effectively addresses the specific needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in Mexico and Latin America.
What steps have you taken to understand the needs of the population you want to serve?
Our team has done extensive research with potential users in institutions specialized in deaf care and special education. This includes conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups with deaf individuals, as well as professionals working in the field. This research has provided valuable insights into the specific needs and experiences of our target population, and has helped inform the design and development of our solution.
Additionally, we have volunteered and worked closely with existing organizations working on this problem, such as the Mexican Federation of the Deaf and local deaf organizations. This has allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the broader issues faced by the hearing and speech impaired community and to learn from the successes and challenges of existing solutions.
Furthermore, we have actively engaged potential users in the design and development of our solution, through co-creation workshops, usability testing, and user feedback sessions. This has ensured that our solution is user-centered and addresses the specific needs of the population we serve. We are also integrating the feedback from these potential users in the development process to make sure that the final solution will be tailored to their needs.
In summary, our team has conducted extensive research with potential users in institutions specialized in deaf care and special education, has volunteered and worked closely with existing organizations working on this problem, and has engaged potential users in the design and development of our solution through co-creation workshops, usability testing, and user feedback sessions. All these efforts have allowed us to understand the specific needs of our target population and to develop a solution that is responsive to those needs.
Which aspects of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Other: Addressing an unmet social, environmental, or economic need not covered in the four dimensions above.
What is your solution’s stage of development?Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community
In what city, town, or region is your solution team located?Jocotepec, Jalisco, Mexico
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
What makes your solution innovative?
Our solution provides a new and significantly improved approach to the problem of communication barriers faced by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It uses cutting-edge technology such as machine learning and wearable devices to translate sign language to speech and sound to text, allowing deaf individuals to communicate with others seamlessly and access information without barriers.
This approach is unique and innovative, as it combines technology and design thinking to create a solution that is tailored to the specific needs of the community. The wearable device app is designed to be user-friendly and easy to use, making it accessible to individuals of all ages and abilities. Additionally, the use of machine learning models allows for real-time translation and accurate communication, making it a powerful tool for bridging the communication gap between deaf and hearing individuals.
Our solution has the potential to be catalytic, as it could change the market and enable broader positive impacts from others in this space. By providing a new and effective way to communicate, it could lead to a shift in the way society interacts with and includes the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. This could lead to an increase in accessibility and inclusion, which in turn could lead to improved education, employment, and health outcomes for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Additionally, the solution has the potential to change the way healthcare systems interact with this population, improving the access and quality of healthcare for the deaf community.
In summary, our solution provides a new and significantly improved approach to the problem of communication barriers faced by the deaf and community, by using cutting-edge technology and design thinking to create a solution that is tailored to the specific needs of the community, it has the potential to be catalytic and change the market, leading to broader positive impacts for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
What are your impact goals for the next year, and how will you achieve them?
Our impact goals for the next year include:
Increase communication and information access for the deaf community in Mexico: We aim to provide our target population with a powerful tool that allows them to communicate with others seamlessly and access information without barriers. This will be achieved through the development and launch of our wearable device app that translates sign language to speech and sound to text.
Improve education and employment outcomes for the deaf community: We aim to improve the education and employment outcomes for this community by providing them with the tools they need to participate fully in society. This will be achieved through targeted outreach to schools and employers, and by providing training and support to educators and employers.
Increase accessibility and inclusion in healthcare: We aim to increase accessibility and inclusion in healthcare for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community by providing them with the tools they need to communicate effectively with healthcare providers. This will be achieved through targeted outreach to healthcare providers.
To achieve these impact goals, we plan to develop and launch our wearable device app, conduct targeted outreach and marketing efforts to reach the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, schools, employers, and healthcare providers, and provide training and support to educators, employers, and healthcare providers on how to effectively use our solution.
Our solution has the potential to have a transformational impact on people's lives by improving communication, education, employment and healthcare outcomes for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. We are committed to using our expertise and technology to empower the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and help them to participate fully in society.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
The core technology that powers our solution is a combination of machine learning, wearable devices and sensor technology.
Firstly, Machine Learning: Our solution uses machine learning models to translate sign language to speech and sound to text, allowing deaf individuals to communicate with others seamlessly and access information without barriers. These models are trained on large datasets of sign language and speech data, which allows them to accurately and quickly translate sign language to speech.
Secondly, Wearable Devices:The solution is mainly an apple watch app, that uses sensor data that the user generates while signing. The wearable device has a small form factor, and it is designed to be worn on the wrist, which allows for ease of use, and it ensures that the user always has access to the translation capabilities. The device is equipped with sensors such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and EMG, which continuously sample data when the user presses a button. This data is then processed by a predictive machine learning model within the device, which predicts the signs the user has performed in real-time. The predictions are then concatenated and fed into another model using natural language processing (NLP) to create an accurate and rich translation of the sign language into spoken language. The final output, in the form of a spoken sentence, is then reproduced as audio within the device, allowing the user to communicate with their hearing counterparts in their natural language.
Thirdly, Sensor Technology: The wearable device has sensors embedded in it, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and EMG, which are used to capture the motion data of the user while signing. This motion data is then processed by the machine learning models to translate sign language to speech and sound to text.
In summary, the core technology that powers our solution is the combination of machine learning models, wearable devices, and sensor technology. This combination allows us to create a cutting-edge solution that effectively translates sign language to speech and sound to text, making it easier for deaf individuals to communicate with others and access information without barriers.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
In which countries do you currently operate?
How many people does your solution currently serve, and how many do you plan to serve in the next year? If you haven’t yet launched your solution, tell us how many people you plan to serve in the next year.
Currently, we are serving 18 children in special education schools with our solution. However, in the next year, our plan is to reach a significant percentage of the Mexican market by releasing the app in the App Store. We expect to serve at least 100,000 people in the next year.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year?
There are several barriers that currently exist that may limit our impact in the next year:
Financial: One of the main barriers is the cost associated with developing, launching and scaling our solution. The development and launch of the app, as well as the continuous maintenance and improvement, require significant financial resources. Additionally, there are costs associated with marketing and outreach to reach our target population.
Legal: There are also legal barriers that may limit our impact in the next year. For example, there may be regulations and laws that govern the use of machine learning and sensor technology, which we need to comply with. Additionally, there may be data privacy and security regulations that we need to adhere to, which can be a challenge.
Cultural: Another barrier is the cultural acceptance of our solution. Many people may be hesitant to use new technologies, especially if they are not familiar with it. Additionally, there may be cultural barriers to communication and understanding between the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and the hearing community, which may limit the acceptance and uptake of our solution.
Market: Another barrier is the competition in the market. There are other similar solutions available in the market, and we need to differentiate our solution and communicate its unique value proposition to potential users.
In summary, there are several barriers that currently exist that may limit our impact in the next year, including financial, technical, legal, cultural and market barriers. However, we are committed to identifying and addressing these barriers in order to achieve our goals and have a meaningful impact on the lives of the deaf community.
How many people work on your solution team?
Full time: 2, Part time: 4, Interpreters and people from the deaf community we're partnering with: 4
How long have you been working on your solution?
We've worked on this solution for 10 months now
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Our startup partners with several organizations to provide support for our research, development, and implementation of the solution. These organizations include:
Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara: We have a research partnership with this university to provide technical support for the development of our solution. The university provides us with access to their research facilities, equipment, and expertise in machine learning and sensor technology.
Instituto Gallaudet: We have a partnership with this organization for deaf children to conduct field research and gain a deeper understanding of the needs of the deaf community. They provide us with access to their resources and expertise in special education and deaf care.
Mexican Federation of the Deaf: We also work closely with this organization to support our field research and understanding of the deaf community. They provide us with access to their resources and expertise in deaf culture and communication, which helps us to ensure that our solution is tailored to the needs of the deaf community.
IBM: We also have a partnership with IBM to build a low-cost device with embedded systems that can perform our algorithms at a low price. With this partnership, we hope to provide a more affordable solution that is accessible to a larger population.
What is your business model?
Our business model is based on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This means that we will be offering our solution as a service to our customers, rather than as a one-time product purchase.
Our solution will be offered through different time subscriptions, including monthly, yearly, 2-year and 5-year options, which will be available at different prices. Our customers will be able to access our solution through our mobile app, which will be available for download on the App Store.
Once the user downloads the app, they will be prompted to purchase a subscription to access the full features of the app. The pricing will be on a subscription basis, with different options available, such as monthly, yearly, 2-year and 5-year.
We will also generate revenue through partnerships with institutions such as special education schools and government institutions that aid the deaf community. These partnerships will allow us to offer our solution to a larger audience, and in turn, generate more revenue.
Additionally, we plan to offer premium features for an additional cost, such as additional language translation support and personalized training for sign language recognition.
In summary, our business model is based on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, where we will be offering our solution as a service to our customers through different time subscriptions, available at different prices. We will also generate revenue through partnerships with institutions and offering premium features for an additional cost.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Our path to financial sustainability includes a combination of revenue streams to fund our work:
Subscriptions: Our main source of revenue will be through the sale of subscriptions to our solution. We will be offering different subscription options, such as monthly, yearly, 2-year, and 5-year, at different prices. This will provide a steady stream of recurring revenue to fund our work.
Partnerships: We plan to generate revenue through partnerships with institutions such as special education schools and government institutions that aid the deaf community. These partnerships will allow us to offer our solution to a larger audience, and in turn, generate more revenue.
Premium Features: We also plan to offer premium features for an additional cost, such as additional language translation support and personalized training for sign language recognition.
Investment Capital: We may also raise investment capital from venture capitalists, angel investors, or crowdfunding to fund our work. This will provide us with the necessary capital to scale our business and reach more customers.
Grants: We had the opportunity of have won grants from foundations and organizations, in this case banks: Inter-American Development Bank and Santander.
In summary, our path to financial sustainability includes a combination of revenue streams such as subscriptions, partnerships, premium features, investment capital, and grants. By diversifying our revenue streams, we aim to ensure that our expected expenses are covered, and we can continue to provide our solution to the deaf community.