Google Project Relate Android app helps those with speech impairments

There are several medical conditions and diseases that can impact a person's ability to communicate with others through speech. Google is working to make its apps more accessible to people with impairments and disabilities while helping them to communicate better with people around them. Millions of people in the US and around the world suffer from conditions that impair speech, including stroke, ALS, Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson's disease.

To help people with those conditions and others who have difficulty speaking, Google will invite a group of users to test a new Android app called Project Relate. The app is intended to help people with speech impairments communicate more easily with Google Assistant and others around them. Project Relate stems from years of research conducted by the Google Speech and Research teams, which is enabled by over a million speech samples recorded by research participants.

Google is calling for English-speaking testers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US to use the app and give feedback on how it performs and how Relate can be improved. Google says early testers of Project Relate will record a set of phrases used to learn to understand unique speech patterns better automatically. The App has three main features called Listen, Repeat, and Assistant.

The Listen feature of Project Relate transcribes speech to text in real-time, allowing users to paste the text into apps or allow other people to read what they're trying to say. The Repeat feature can restate what the user said using a synthesized digital voice. That feature aims to allow users to have the same face-to-face interaction that we all enjoy. The feature could also allow those with speech impairments to better communicate with home assistant devices, which have become common in homes worldwide.

The Assistant feature can communicate directly with Google Assistant within the Relate app, allowing users to perform various tasks ranging from playing songs to controlling home automation devices linked to Assistant. Google says it worked directly with people who have speech issues for Project Relate. One person specifically mentioned is Aubrey Lee, a Google brand manager with speech impacted by muscular dystrophy. Lee says Project Relate can mean the difference between a simple conversation with someone going from a look of confusion to a laugh of recognition.

Google is inviting anyone with a condition impacting speech to sign up to provide feedback on Project Relate. Anyone interested can fill out a form, and Google says its team will get back to interested parties in the coming months. There is no indication of how many people Google wants to invite to test the project or exactly when the testing will begin.

Like many modern technology companies, Google and its parent company Alphabet have numerous products under their umbrella. While apps and Android are significant parts of the Google business, it also builds smartphones in the Pixel series. Late last month,

reports surfaced claiming Google was working on a successor to the Tensor processor used in the Pixel 6 line of devices. Google also recently announced that Google Fi phone calls were protected with end-to-end encryption.