Northfield-based SpeechGear featured in StarTribune

Strib article on SpeechGear There’s an article on the front page of today’s Business Section in the StarTribune titled A new kind of speech features Northfield-based SpeechGear and their Auditory Sciences subsidiary. (The online headline “Northfield-based SpeechGear transcribes in real time for deaf” is misleading since their product is not only for the deaf.)

Back in January, I visited their offices and got a demonstration of their software from Sean Virnig, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Auditory Sciences and SpeechGear CEO Robert Palmquist.

Sean Virnig and Robert Palmquist Sean Virnig and Robert Palmquist SpeechGear demo
See my video of a demonstration of the software’s English-to-Spanish translation, as well as the software transcript of another part of my interview:

================

[9:10:01 AM]: RDP (Robert D. Palmquist)
    That’s from the movie Lord of the Rings
[9:10:29 AM]: RDP
    In the old place I had one more that was supposed to be Star Trek time
[9:11:22 AM]: RDP
    For the Star Trek clock I wanted it to be warp speed, so I removed the secondhand and replaced it with the minute hand so it looked like time was flying very fast
[9:11:53 AM]: RDP
    This is what we’re doing with this product
[9:12:23 AM]: RDP
    Whenever I say something Sean sees it on the screen
[9:12:37 AM]: RDP
    And he can respond by writing
[9:13:07 AM]: RDP
    or by typing
[9:13:51 AM]: RDP
    Griff pointed out that you’re left-handed writer
[9:14:00 AM]: RDP
    All this time I thought you were right-handed
[9:14:24 AM]: Sean
    By choice. I am ambidextrous
[9:14:39 AM]: RDP
    The writing pad is actually set up for a right-handed person
[9:14:49 AM]: RDP
    I can show you how to set it up for a left-handed person
[9:15:13 AM]: RDP
    So what do you think?
[9:15:51 AM]: Griff
    Very cool I’m wondering how this is better than the speech translation app available on iPhone and Google phones
[9:16:24 AM]: RDP
    I’m not sure which system you’re talking about
[9:16:54 AM]: Griff
    The iPhone and the new Google phone translation app you speak into it and you see that text appear
[9:17:23 AM]: RDP
    The iPhone has a dragon application that supports about 40,000 words words here were supporting about 500,000 words
[9:17:55 AM]: RDP
    I haven’t seen the android app
[9:18:02 AM]: RDP
    Does it work well?
[9:18:36 AM]: Griff
    I don’t know yet I have an early Google phone that doesn’t have it on and I’m told that the new Google phone I’ve got a T-Mobile G1 and it does not work well but they supposedly the new actual Google access one phone that does work well I don’t know
[9:18:59 AM]: RDP
    So what we’re doing here is anything that I say gets transcribed
[9:19:07 AM]: RDP
    Plus if I added the translation module anything that I say would get voiced in to say Spanish
[9:19:17 AM]: RDP
    In addition to the transcription we’re keeping a log of everything that said
[9:19:32 AM]: RDP
    Plus we also have the ability to use pictures and video clips and that sort of thing to augment our communications
[9:20:12 AM]: RDP
    Next week I’ll be in Vancouver
[9:20:20 AM]: RDP
    I’m part of the Olympic team
[9:20:36 AM]: RDP
    The point is a picture is worth 1000 words so we can use pictures to augment our communications
[9:20:56 AM]: RDP
    If I were Sean by now my left arm would be getting tired
[9:21:06 AM]: RDP
    Let’s go sit down
[9:22:41 AM]: Griff
    Can you e-mail me the transcript?
[9:23:03 AM]: Griff
    You as I would like to, in addition to putting the pictures on our blog I’d like to put the transcript up
[9:24:33 AM]: Griff
    I think you keep, can you keep capturing what were doing and appended to the transcript we generate?
[9:24:46 AM]: RDP
    Let me show you some fun things
[9:24:57 AM]: RDP
    We don’t keep an actual precise translation of what is said
[9:25:09 AM]: RDP
    For example if I say a phone number I don’t need to add the dashes to have it appear like you’d like it to appear
[9:25:26 AM]: RDP
    My phone number is 507-664-9123
[9:25:38 AM]: RDP
    So all I said is the number said in say 507 — 664 — 9123
[9:25:46 AM]: RDP
    The same applies for a price or dates
[9:25:54 AM]: RDP
    For example I can say the cost is $8.42
[9:26:07 AM]: RDP
    So I didn’t say $ . 42
[9:26:43 AM]: RDP
    I can also say today is February 3, 2010 and
[9:27:00 AM]: RDP
    That’s kind of interesting and never really thought how to pronounce 2010
[9:27:15 AM]: Griff
    Some people are saying 2010
[9:27:29 AM]: RDP
    So is the 2010 or 2010
[9:27:47 AM]: RDP
    That’s all part of what we’re doing is enabling communications for somebody who is deaf or hard of hearing with somebody who doesn’t understand sign language
[9:28:03 AM]: RDP
    So with this system somebody who is for example deaf could also travel to a country like Italy and have a conversation
[9:28:16 AM]: RDP
    Whatever the person says an Italian would be transcribed into English and then whatever you type or write in English would give voiced out an Italian
[9:28:34 AM]: Griff
    Sean when are you going to Italy did practice this
[9:29:01 AM]: Sean
    Sometime soon I hope!
[9:29:24 AM]: Sean
    I’d like to go to Florence again. With my Rowland.
[9:29:36 AM]: Sean
    and this.
[9:30:09 AM]: Griff
    How is this device likely to be used to add safer example is a deaf school in Faribault?
[9:32:35 AM]: Sean
    Everybody signs at the academy for the deaf. This unit can be used by deaf and hard of hearing students in public schools, for example.
[9:33:16 AM]: Griff
    So is this product ready to be sold to public schools or other institutions government right now
[9:34:37 AM]: Sean
    I am currently working with several districts that have shun great interest in this product.
[9:35:16 AM]: Griff
    Sean you preferred typing over writing?
[9:35:37 AM]: Sean
    naturally i prefer signing over everything but this works well for me in this situation.
[9:36:28 AM]: Griff
    Okay Robert what other speech gear products are you showing right now?
[9:36:47 AM]: RDP
    Actually I’m not sure we’ve entered the term speech gear into this system
[9:36:58 AM]: RDP
    It’s easy to add new terms
[9:37:15 AM]: RDP
    So like if you had the last name of a family or street address or something like that any sort of proper noun you can add it to the system yourself without having to come back to us
[9:37:27 AM]: Rob
    We found that it’s really important for people to be able to add their own vocabulary to the system
[9:37:35 AM]: RDP
    Everybody has their own acronym and terms that they use
[9:38:12 AM]: RDP
    So back to your question
[9:38:24 AM]: RDP
    The other products that we are selling have to do with removing the language barrier
[9:38:34 AM]: RDP
    Interact instantly translates conversations into a second language
[9:38:46 AM]: RDP
    If I say something in English it is voiced out in French and that person responds in their native language and hearing English
[9:38:58 AM]: RDP
    This is being used right now in Haiti
[9:39:09 AM]: RDP
    In addition to translation of conversations we also instantly translate documents
[9:39:23 AM]: RDP
    Let me show you that
[9:39:32 AM]: RDP
    So this is a product called document
[9:39:59 AM]: RDP
    I think I have some documents here
[9:41:40 AM]: RDP
    Right now I’m running Vista
[9:41:56 AM]: RDP
    I think the issue is I had this computer in my dock and when you came in I ejected it without shutting down all the applications
[9:42:10 AM]: RDP
    So the software thinks it already has the workbench running and actually probably does somewhere but I can’t find it
[9:42:30 AM]: RDP
    So let me bring up English and some other language
[9:43:21 AM] English-Spanish:
    Anything that I say will get voiced out in Spanish –>
Cualquier cosa que digo se expresera en español.
[9:43:50 AM] English-Spanish:
    Would you like a male or female voice for the output? –>
¿Le gustaria usted una voz masculina o femenina para la produccion?
[9:44:20 AM] English-Spanish:
    There, I’m now using a female voice output –>
Ahora estoy utilizando una voz femenina para la producción
[9:44:37 AM] English-Spanish:
    So anything that I say it’s voiced out in Spanish and in this case the second person would speak Spanish and I hear it spoken in English –>
    Entonces cualquier cosa que digo es expresado en espanol y en este caso la segunda persona hablaria en espanol y podria oirlo hablado en ingles.
[9:44:49 AM] English-Spanish:
    Do you speak Spanish at all? –>
¿Habla usted español mas o menos?
[9:45:06 AM] English-Spanish:
    We deployed systems to Haiti with the organization called Samaritan’s purse –>
Desplegamos sistemas a Haiti con la organización llamado bolsa de samaritano.
[9:45:17 AM] English-Spanish:
    So they’re using them to talk with the local people –>
Ellos estan utilizandolos para hablar con la gente local.
[9:45:28 AM] English-Spanish:
    In particular the group within Samaritan’s purse is a group of doctors –>
En particular, el grupo dentro de la organizacion bolsa de samaritano es un grupo de médicos.
[9:45:47 AM] English-Spanish:
    The doctor speak English and it get voiced out in French –>
El médico habla inglés y es expresado en francés.
[9:46:15 AM] English-Spanish:
    Ideally you would have had Creole because that is what most of the people in Haiti speak –>
Idealmente habríamos tenido Creole porque eso es lo que habla la mayoria de la gente de Haiti.
[9:46:28 AM] English-Spanish:
    But French is the official language of Haiti –>
Pero francés es el idioma oficial de Haití
[9:46:37 AM] English-Spanish:
    So most people do understand it even though they don’t use it everyday –>
Así que la mayoría de las personas pueden comprenderlo aunque no lo utilicen cada dia.
[9:46:53 AM] English-Spanish:
    I can try speaking some Spanish but my Spanish is very poor –>
Puedo intentar hablar algún español pero mi español no es muy bien.
[9:47:20 AM] Spanish-English:
    El reconocimiento de la español permitió –>
Recognition of Spanish is permitted
[9:47:47 AM] Spanish-English:
    Necesito un médico –>
I need a doctor
[9:49:30 AM]: Griff
    Shawn tell me about Ryland and where local people can see one ride one by one, Ben Witt in Faribault
[9:50:04 AM]: RDP
    The more context you use the better
[9:50:20 AM]: RDP
    For example, please write your name on the right side of the paper
[9:50:35 AM]: RDP
    So in this case the words right and right are pronounced identically
[9:50:44 AM]: RDP
    Please write your name on the right side of the paper
[9:50:54 AM]: RDP
    So we’re using context in order to generate the appropriate spelling
[9:51:05 AM]: RDP
    He went to see the sailors at sea
[9:51:26 AM]: RDP
    Sean, are you aware that WRITE and RIGHT are pronounced identically
[9:51:38 AM]: RDP
    That’s kind of interesting
[9:51:43 AM]: RDP
    But then I find lots of things interesting
[9:52:38 AM]: RDP
    Let’s get back to rawland and bicycles
[9:53:29 AM]: Griff
    Where can people ride a Ryland bicycle and purchase one?
[9:53:57 AM]: Sean
    They may visit www.rawlandcycles.com and then email me. I can arrange a test ride. They can purchase Rawland products from the web site.
[9:54:24 AM]: Sean
    We will work with retailers as well.
[9:55:24 AM]: Griff
    I need a bike, how do I know if a Rawland is what I need?
[9:55:57 AM]: Sean
    Rawland is designed for all-around riding. You may ride it virtually anywhere.
[9:57:21 AM]: Sean
    I have never tried trials riding, and would love to give it a try. i raced enduro. for what it is worth, i am proud to say that i have never raced motorcross. enduro is the real deal.
[9:57:49 AM]: Griff
    I rode one motor cries and that was enough for me
[9:58:53 AM]: Sean
    Becuse of Rawland, I am now getting into adventure motorcycling, which is why i test rode the R1200GS Adventure in California last December. This bike is one incredible machine. The front wheel lifted in the third gear!
[9:59:47 AM]: Sean
    Dont tell my wife! She will think that i will want another toy.
[10:00:11 AM]: Griff
    Okay that’s a deal I’ll keep it secret thanks for the demo today I’ve got a go earn some money

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