Subtle Subtitles is a system that integrates an iPhone application with speech recognition technology into a functional scarf that helps people affected by speech dysarthria (slurred speech) communicate with others. The application’s speech recognition engine has been specifically designed to help capture key words from users whose condition causes them to slur their speech. The position of the scarf gives others at-a-glance context for the conversation while maintaining the integrity of face-to-face contact.
The project’s designer Calum Pringle, whose mother has been affected by dysarthria, explains below:
Subtle Subtitles clarifies conversation with people with dysarthric speech by presenting subtitles in our peripheral vision in an intuitively designed scarf. Those familiar with the impediment understand the slurred speech however, as with other variances in expression, strangers struggle to ‘tune in’ to the conversation. Current solutions for this communication difficulty use synthesised speech to replace the person’s own; Subtle Subtitles ensures that the wearer’s own speech and eye contact continue to be of greatest importance, preserving the intimacy of the exchange whilst quietly providing a subtle hint of the context of the conversation.