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Ava

Ava
United States
Accessible Service

Category: Healthcare, Assistive Technology,

Nomination Details

Organization name: Ava

Launched Date: 0000-00-00

Who has created it: Ava

Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.

There are about 360 million people in the world who suffer from disabling hearing loss (5% of the world population). Every single one of these people encounters one identical problem on a daily basis; they are excluded and isolated from group conversations. They can try their very best at lipreading one person, but no matter how skilled they are at that, the group conversation is impossible to follow. As a result, these people have less chances to thrive in their social and professional lives and often will end up much lower on the ladder.

The only solution they have today is a professional interpreter or captioner, that costs $80-140/hr on average and needs to be scheduled way in advance. Imagine bringing a captioner to a company meeting or to a family dinner. Hearing aids and other assistive listening technologies will not solve the problem either. After speaking to more than 300 people in our field, we know that Ava is the perfect solution to this problem.

Ava could be downloaded one’s smartphone from the Android/Apple app store and hence needs no extra hardware or technology to be bought/carried at any given time. One could start using it immediately by connecting to the internet and multiple people could be part of the conversation making conversations in a group seamless.

Tell us who is the target audience and how the accessible innovation will benefit them. Please specify the different target audiences groups and provide numbers and statistics of your current clients as well as what is the potential number of people that the innovation can impact and empower:

Ava aims to empower millions of hearing-impaired people in their everyday communications through the app. According to the UN, there are 360 million people who suffering from one or the other kind of hearing impairment.

One of our initial target audience are individuals who is deaf/HoH that has access to a smartphone but currently can’t afford the expensive interpreter services for their needs. (We also have plans to roll out a version on tablets and desktop in the near future). The other important group of audience that we are aiming for are companies that are spending a lot of money on accessibility related services that are outdated and expensive. We are cutting the professional services costs by 50x to what the companies spend now on an yearly basis.

The setup costs for accessing Ava are almost negligible compared to existing services. Ava is one's smartphone and hence needs no extra hardware or technology to be carried.

How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?

Ava is one of the first technologies to focus on day-to-day accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing. We have built something that would help deaf & HoH be part of conversations that happen at work and with their loved ones at the click of a button making it seamless for them to access what is happening around them.

Beyond the truly new approach of accessibility, we’re building a robust, scalable platform that aims at connecting and harnessing the power of multiple devices microphones to provide a more accurate and personal speech recognition and speaker identification than seen so far.

How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?

Unlike these existing solutions, we're providing a service which is for the first time geared towards true autonomy, because it is:

  • 24/7 available to help them right when they need to communicate
  • 100x cheaper than professional services (captioning service: +120$/hour)
  • near real-time so they can meaningfully engage in meetings.

We have a provisional application on one of the core technologies fueling our current system for Ava. We can disclose more information if relevant/needed going forward.

How do you get the innovative solution to reach the target audience? Please elaborate on the your go to market strategy and which geographies do you currently work in and what are your future plans for marketing your innovation.

There are multiple channels for us to reach target audience:

  • Referrals: people know someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. They will refer them. We know this because this is happening a lot already and in most places we have been, the community is very tightly knit.
  • Organizations dealing with deaf, hearing loss etc. DHSC & HLAA & DCARA etc. > presentations and realtionship building
  • Audiologists: When we provide significant recognizable value to their clients, audiologists will refer their customers to the product.
  • Captioners: They see the value of Ava for their clients and will refer them to us.
  • Media attention: We have been using a lot of pushes on all Social Media channels and also use our own networks in the tech, accessibility space. Here is an article on us by Steve Blake who is guiding us - http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveblank/2015/04/30/can-you-hear-me-now/#2715e4857a0b2e9a713565bf

A good validation to our expectation is the support that we received on our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to start Ava which was funded in less than a week - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ava-group-conversations-made-accessible

What is the potential impact of the innovative solution on the lives of the target audience? Please elaborate by providing statistics of the current impact and the potential impact.

First and foremost, Ava will help empower deaf and HOH people being a personal captioner wherever they go and hence ensuring that they have no issues connecting/communicating. Also, If hearing-impaired people with trouble to communicate and collaborate with colleagues in their work are provided with an affordable way to follow 1-to-1 and group conversation when no other service is available, they will have the possibility to attend unscheduled business meetings, make relevant and timely interventions in the conversation to demonstrate their value-added. It would also enable them to participate in social networking activities and to cooperate with any colleague/family member without the traditional communication hassle. This kind of accessibility and service affordability in the workplace grants them the opportunity to develop professional opportunities and to have jobs better suited to their qualifications, to improve their salaries and better secure their employability. This ultimately leads to a decrease of the high unemployment rate in hearing-impaired population.

Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.

"Ava has been a lifesaver for me these last 2 days for me....my husband health has rapidly declined this last month...yesterday and today, have had 2 agencies come to house, to start the process for some home care relief...filling out forms and giving and receiving information Ava was so much help...thank you!!....had to restart it a few times, but getting more comfortable with it...turning off the auto lock on iPad maybe some information you would like to pass on." - Jo Ann

"I was working with an graduate IT student who was pressured for time. He knew no sign. I put Ava on the desk and was using technical terminology talking super rapidly. Ava had no lag and was so accurate. The student was awed as he had a lot of experience with ASR. It was so nice to be dealing with the hearing aids and not to have to struggle to have him speechread me. So you are doing amazing!" - Linda

Links to a few videos about the innovation: