Giving a Voice to Those Who Need it Most
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Verizon is now accepting ideas for the 2015 Powerful Answers Award
Expanding its ongoing commitment to innovation and social responsibility, we are currently accepting submissions for the chance to win up to $1,000,000 in prize money. Enter here by June 18th, 2015: verizon.com/powerfulanswers/award/.
More than a year ago, Danny Weissberg, co-founder and CEO of Talkitt, was approached by the creator of TinyTap, an edtech startup looking to integrate Talkitt’s voice-to-voice speech technology into an educational game they wanted to develop for children. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that a colleague sent Weissberg an article about the Verizon Powerful Answers Award program, and he realized that TinyTap was last year’s $1M Verizon Powerful Answers Award winner in the ‘education’ category.
That was inspiration enough. In the months that followed, Weissberg entered his startup’s application, Voiceitt, into the 2014 Verizon Powerful Answers Award – and ultimately won $250,000 in prize money in the ‘healthcare’ category to develop his company’s life-changing technology.
Weissberg reveals that he and his team often get emails from potential users expressing their excitement for the app’s release. He says there’s simply nothing available like it today, and no other natural means of communicating with loved ones affected by speech or language disorders.
“For us, bringing Voiceitt to market is so important because of the impact it will have on people’s ability to communicate freely with loved ones,” said Weissberg. “You know when you see these people that it will change their life, and this award is enabling us to fulfill a commitment to the community.”
Voiceitt is a voice-to-voice application that can translate distorted pronunciation to understandable speech, filling a gap for what Talkitt estimates as the 1.5 percent of the population affected by speech disabilities. It is the first app to be developed by Talkitt, but surely not the last. Weissberg has already started working on a voice-to-motion app based on the same technology concept to help people with cognitive and motor disabilities translate motion on a device screen.
When he first heard that his company had won the cash prize, Weissberg was at a dinner event in Denmark and couldn’t wait to share the great news. He immediately got in touch with Jessica Eisenberg, Talkitt’s marketing manager in Israel, to share the news. “It was an across-the-globe virtual scream,” he said.
But the anticipation is felt beyond just Weissberg and his team: “For potential users and their families, our product is something that they’ve really been waiting for. Now with this award from Verizon, we have the resources to share our timeline and deliver the product.”
Michael Murphy is a public relations manager with Verizon Wireless. Follow him on Twitter at: @VZWmike.