I developed the technology at 16 years old, for a high school competition, “INTEL ISEF Awards 2008”. Knowing I’ve been coding since 6th grade, my school encouraged me to participate and come up with a solution to the problem of high marginalization of the Deaf community due to lack of services/content offered in Sign Language.
What it does
I came up with the idea of avatars that can be integrated in any platform to translate the content (text/speech) to Sign Language. The project ended up winning the Intel ISEF 2008 Behavior and Social Science Third Award.
How I built it
Challenges I ran into
When the page has less than 2000 likes, it cannot be added automatically , so currently we are adding them by making the page admin tester and installing the tab for them.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
After the competition, I kept the project as a hobby, and developed it in the form of mobile apps which I kept on the Google and iOS App stores. The apps started getting thousands and thousands of downloads from the US (it was in American Sign Language that I first developed it) as well as comments from individuals expressing gratitude for the impact it was having on their lives. [some comments from Google Store & iOS App Store: "Love it... I absolutely love this app. I can now talk to my grandson and he understands me. Keep it up!" "This is going to be a great help! My daughter is so lost when I'm not there to interpret, and this app will give her so much independence and control over her own life. Thank you so much and God bless you!" "Helpful! This app is very helpful. My landlord is deaf and it will help me communicate with him."
Seeing this impact, I quit my full-time job in 2016 and started Mind Rockets Inc (Assistive Technologies for the Deaf), as startup dedicated to expanding and scaling this technology to the next level.
Now, almost 2 years later since we started, we are a team of 10 people. My cofounder, Mohammad Kilany, has almost 20 years of experience in IT multinationals; we have 2 Deaf people on the team so we’re connected with the Deaf community in every step we take. Furthermore, we’ve been winning global startup competitions around the world: (K-Startup Grand Challenge (South Korea), Seedstars World (Switzerland), MIT EF Pan Arab (Bahrain), GITEX Future Stars & AIM Startup (Dubai), Get In The Ring (Portugal), Arab Mobile Challenge, Imagine Cup.)
Now, we have more than 20 websites integrating our avatars to make the content accessible in Sign Language for the Deaf. These are institutions like ministries and govt. entities in the UAE, telecom companies (ZAIN Jordan), Universities, and other private institutions.
Only recently did we develop the avatar for Facebook integration, and now we have more than 40 FB pages already integrating our avatars, making their content accessible for the Deaf.
What I learned
I Learned that sign language is not one language, and most deaf people cannot read or write. I also learned that via Facebook tools, we can connect deaf people with organization and providing better service for them via a Facebook Page.
What's next for SOMI Sign Language Interpreter
Provide a version of Contact US service on the Facebook Page Sign language Interpreter as plug in, making service available on multiple sign languages,
Possibly, with the help of FB, a future integration with Facebook Status feature.
How to try it out:
1) Use the following link http://mindrocketsinc.com/api/installpage.aspx
2) Select your page
3) Enter your email
4) On the payment method, select free (for non-commercial pages)
5) Click "next" and enjoy Sign Language!
Please note that Somi works only with published pages who are not restricted to countries and age groups.