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Interview With Arsh Shah Dilbagi

Last month we published story about young inventor Arsh Shah Dilbagi who was among finalist of Google Science Fair 2014, for his invention called –TALK, a device which converts breath into words and enables mutes to communicate in normal form of speech.Arsh has won the Voters Choice Award in Google Science Fair 2014. (Find more information on device – ‘TALK’ Here)

Arsh was visiting his family doctor when he saw a man sitting in the waiting room crying for long time. In a conversation with his doctor, he understood that the man was suffering from a developmental disability and was unable to express himself to anyone. Arsh thought, ‘Why can’t technology solve such problems for us?’ After 3 months of research, Arsh started developing ‘TALK’, a device which converts breath into speech. 7 months later, he came up with a product which could be used by anyone suffering from any kind of speech impairment.

In an interview with him, we understand all about his journey, inspiration and his future plans.

IndianWeb2: Tell us a little about yourself and your achievements.
Arsh: I’m 16 years old and studying in 12th Grade at DAV Public School, Panipat. I like Photography, Cinematography, Web Designing, 3D Modelling & Rendering and Swimming. I am very fascinated by the power of Science and Mathematics and love ‘Making Things’.

I conceived and designed a working prototype of an Autonomous UGV for which I was honored by the President of India. I won IRO 2010 at National Level, IRO 2011 and FLL 2011 at Regional Level. I have also made a Home Automation System using Arduino, WordPress Plugin and designed a Quizzing Social Network. I started researching and working on talk in 2013.

IndianWeb2: Tell us a little about your product ‘TALK’ and how it works.
Arsh: TALK is basically an AAC device for people suffering from Developmental-Disabilities. Talk expects a person to be able to give two distinguishable exhales (by varying intensity/time) for converting into electrical signals using MEMS Microphone. The signals are processed by a microprocessor and labeled as ‘Dots’ – for short exhales and ‘Dashes’ – for longer exhales.

These are further interpreted as Morse Code, converted to words/sentences and sent to another microprocessor for synthesizing. Talk features two modes – one to communicate in English and other to give specific commands/phrases, and 9 different voices.

IndianWeb2: How is ‘TALK’ different from the AAC devices available in the market?
Arsh: Talk has made two major breakthroughs by increasing speaking rate and becoming the world’s most affordable AAC device. The device was tested on a person suffering from SEM and Parkinson’s Disease. Stephen Hawking has been suffering from ALS from the past 7 years. The speech generating device which he uses is very expensive, bulky, slow and consume a lot of power. ‘TALK’ is generic, affordable, has faster speaking rate, portable and consumes less power. The cost of the device (when made available in the market) would be Rs 5000 only.

‘TALK’ used pressure sensor which can be used to monitor variations in breath and generate two distinguishable signals. These signals can be further processed as a binary language and synthesized into speech accordingly.

IndianWeb2: What stage is the product at? When can we expect it in the market?
Arsh: The product has been tested on patients suffering from the diseases and improvements have been made in the product. I have filed a patent for it, which is in process right now. I am also waiting for certification to come along so that the product can be launched by the end of next year. It will be available for Rs 5000.

IndianWeb2: Who are your mentors?
Arsh: My parents are my mentors. They have been the biggest strength for me and are very supportive of my decisions. They have always inspired me to do better. Apart from them, I do not have anyone mentoring me in the project. This has turned out very well for me as I do not have someone redirecting me to a particular path. There is Google to always help out if I need anything.

IndianWeb2: Describe a typical day in your life and how has it changed since you have won the award.
Arsh: It has pretty much been the same. I start my day early around 5am. I go to my school (DAV Public School, Panipat) and come back around 1pm. I study for a while, play for a bit and then come back and do my research. Work a little on making ‘TALK’ better. ‘TALK’ has changed from a research project of my own to a social responsibility now. So many people have people have pinned up their hopes on this and are looking forward to the device coming out commercially.

IndianWeb2: Tell us for instance about people’s reactions.
Arsh: While a lot of people have congratulated me on making ‘TALK’, a lot of people are also looking forward to the product coming out in the market so that their near and dear ones can use it. I received a mail from a father congratulating me and thanking me for coming up with this idea. I got to know that his son was suffering from Developmental disability and the father was happy because he finally would get to listen to his son’s voice. It feels very good to see how happy this will make people.

IndianWeb2: Tell us a little about your future plans.
Arsh: After I finish my class 12, I will not be joining a college, instead keep working on the product, trying to make it better and better. The patent for ‘TALK’ is currently processing. I am not sure about which college I would be in a year, or if I would attend a college. I would like to add auto-predictions to my Computing-Engine and integrate Talk with modern technology like Google Glass to make the world a better place to live people with Developmental-Disabilities.

IndianWeb2: Give a message for future entrepreneurs
Arsh: It all depends on how you see things in life. Don’t ask ‘What should I make?’, instead ask ‘What should I do to solve a problem?’ When there is a cause or purpose behind what is being done, things will come in place.

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