Ava

Making conversations accessible for the deaf

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Adrien Montcoudiolย โ€” Mangrove cofounder
I met Thibault 3 years ago. He was just getting started with his vision of making communications between deaf & hearing people easier. The 1st project was a glove that would translate gestures into text, and today there's this app that can litterally change the life of 400 million deaf & hard-of-hearing people in the world ๐Ÿ™Œ

His story is incredible - he comes from a Deaf family - and I'd say this is a product that has been 25 years in the making.

Super excited to see them got this far. Would love @t_duchemin to explain his vision for this really unique product ;)
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Thibault Ducheminย โ€” CEO @AvaScribe - Beyond barriers
Thanks @adrienm for hunting us - this is one of these special moments we've been really looking forward to!

Hey guys!
Ava is an unusual product, and we're humbled to be here.
We just released the 1.0 on the Appstore and Playstore, and we'd love to get feedback & thoughts from all the community - it's our first time here (hi ๐Ÿ‘‹!).

I grew up the only hearing person in a Deaf family.
When you get to be in the middle of these 2 worlds, you see a ton of issues.
We started Ava to solve what we believe to be the most essential problem today for 400M deaf & hard-of-hearing people: understanding and participating to group conversations.
Lunch, business meetings, hanging out with friends can become a nightmare to follow when you only rely on lip-reading. Only other solutions involve a professional interpreter/captioner and cost $100/hour. Talk about an expensive coffee meeting ๐Ÿ‘€.

Ava aims to make the crazy idea of a 24/7 accessibility to conversations, possible.
Ava connects the smartphones of a group of people who downloaded the app, and turns them into a smart microphone system. With some speech recognition & speaker identification magicโœจ, Ava can then show who says what in less than a second to the deaf person.

We use it everyday for meetings, standups, lunches. We have to: our cofounder & CTO is himself deaf.
But because it just needs smartphones, Ava is flexible, simple, and works in many other situations.
The most interesting thing was to realize the range of situations our early users decided to use Ava for and that we hadn't predicted.
Stargazing with friends because reading lips in the dark is impossible, communicating from the other ends of a house, understanding their doctor, captioning a parents/students meeting... And sometimes they even stretched to its extreme ๐Ÿ˜ :)

While Ava isn't always getting what people say right, it's a definite leap from no accessibility at all. And it's just the beginning: Ava gets smarter as time goes, learning to distinguish your voice better everyday ๐Ÿค“.

We're excited to share the 1.0 to the world today, and to announce a $1.8M seed round, led by visionary investors who support us in this vision of a truly 24/7 accessible world.

Our wish? To make Thanksgiving dinners actually great again for 15M deaf & hard-of-hearing Americans this year.

Learn more about it here: https://medium.com/@AvaScribe/in...

If you know a deaf/hard-of-hearing person, pass it around please: this little app might actually change the life of someone!

We'd love to hear what you think of Ava - we'll be here all day!

Cheers,
Thibault & the Ava Team
@t_duchemin Congrats on the launch! Can't wait to hear about the impact you'll have.
Anatoly Sharifulinย โ€” CEO & Co-Founder at AppFollow.io
@t_duchemin good job, I'll test your app
Matthew Boogaardย โ€” Director
@t_duchemin @adrienm @avascribe It's really refreshing to see someone in the tech world make a product to solve such a huge social problem. Great work!
Greg Ellisย โ€” Owner, EllisApps Inc.
@t_duchemin This is so very awesome! I had a dream of building something like this 15 years ago when the tech didn't exist to make it happen! So great to see you make this a reality! Congrats!
Ceci Mourkogiannisย โ€” Founder, @Pie
I'm inspired by this team's commitment to solving problems faced by millions every day. I'd love to hear more about how you developed and tested the product during your beta.
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Thibault Ducheminย โ€” CEO @AvaScribe - Beyond barriers
@cecimetropolis great question!
first we had to learn how to communicate super effectively with about 40% of our early users, who were Deaf: we learnt ASL - it was easier for me than for Pieter, who self-taught in 3 months from scratch :)

we tend to have a few key principles we believe in, pick a few very important features we want to build, and try to really focus on nailing the experience.

key principles:
1. We go for distributed: because our system is made of everyone's devices, it forces us to want to design the most seamless way of connecting everyone with this constraint. For example, we have no account creation if you're hearing and join the first conversation, or that it takes a tap to connect 2 people on Ava already

2. Designing for very non-tech savvy people: there's all ages, deafness being sort of randomly distributed. We always have them in mind

3. Focus on the core functionality

Regarding the testing, we made a Slack community with deaf/hard-of-hearing users (so tech-savvy feedback) and kept testing also face to face with normal users, look at their behavior, etc.

We don't have a lot of features right now, but they should work well. For example, saving transcripts isn't something we do. We could, but what matters right now is to nail the actual following of the conversation :)

Hope this helps!
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