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Sunday, 16 November 2014
Hear that Voice
No matter how we communicate or with whom, without it our world would
be incomplete. Ask a person with any kind of speech impairment about
it, his lack of words will speak volumes about his pain. But thanks to a
16-year-old student from Panipat in Haryana, they can now let their
voice be heard.
Some time back, Arsh Shah Dilbagi won Google Science Fair’s Voter’s
Choice Award as he was one of the top 15 global finalists of 2014. He
was the only student from Asia to make it there. His invention TALK—an
affordable, ultra-light, fastest and portable Augmentative and
Alternative Communication (AAC) device—helps people with any kind of
speech impairment to communicate with the world. Besides receiving a
host of inspiring prizes like a laptop, a tablet and others, Dilbagi was
also awarded a cash prize of $10,000 (`6 lakh).
people with developmental disabilities (DD) like locked-in syndrome,
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and even mutes to communicate in normal
form of speech. It is a patent-pending innovative technology which uses
the variations in person’s breath to help him or her either dictate
letters which are further combined and synthesised as sentences or
speak-out specific commands and phrases depending on the mode selected.
won the voters’ choice award which was given to me on September 22 in
California in the US. I was accompanied by my parents whose support
means a lot to me. There were a total of five awards which were given
away in the event and my award was one of them,” Dilbagi, a student of
Panipat’s DAV International School, told The Sunday Standard.
90 participants were interviewed online by the judges, and they
selected 15 projects from nine countries, including mine from India. I
got the idea to develop TALK as Stephen Hawking, a noted professor in
theoretical physics, suffers from motor neurone disease but still
continues to work with the help of technology,” says Dilbagi. Currently,
AAC devices cost around `4 lakh but Dilbagi’s invention is priced at
Approximately 2 per cent of the world population
suffer from DD. “The main ideology behind my project is to make a
difference in the lives of this particular set of people who are not
brought under the radar of existing inventors and innovators,” he says.
to Dilbagi, TALK is the World’s first and only wearable AAC device for
people who are almost entirely paralysed. He had to start from scratch
to build this simplest yet the world’s most advanced AAC device. “I have
toiled for more than a year to develop TALK. I have invested my entire
time and energy in building different prototypes, testing different
designs and making better computational engines with accuracies rounding
to nearly 100 per cent to make this device a reality. I am doing my bit
to make the world more connected for people with developmental
disabilities.” he adds.
Besides Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs has
always been his inspiration for combining technology with art and
envisioning products like no other. “I am fascinated by Isaac Asimov for
his amazing work of science fiction and Stephen Hawking for his work in
the field of theoretical physics,” he says.
“I believe the
fruitful past academics, research and hands-on experiences that I have
had, the grooming that I am going through and a focused, determined and
passionate approach towards future are my strengths and will pave the
way for my success and help me achieve my long-term goals,” states a
The 21st century is going to belong to
artificial intelligence and the young Indian looks forward to be a part
of this scientific revolution. “The desire to become a part of this
revolution, to collectively tackle the challenge of imparting
intelligence to machines for the betterment of mankind and the dream of
making original contributions to my field of interest has motivated me
to opt for a career in computer science and robotics,” he adds.
this is just the beginning for the young inventor. “I have also been
nominated for Scientific American Science in Action Award as well as
Google Computer Science Award,” concludes Dilbagi.