EYEAFRICA TV: Johannesburg, South Africa: An enterprising young South African is determined to change the way hearing impaired people communicate with others and interact with the outside world.
Netshidatzi was fortunate to be born with perfect hearing though both his parents are deaf, his struggle to communicate with his parents used to leave him frustrated and angry.
“It was very hard for me. You can imagine being with parents who can’t even talk you know, hear. I was then raised by my granny because of the challenges I had in terms of communicating with my parents,” said Netshidatzi, co-founder and CEO of Rudzambilu Holdings.
Determined to find a solution, Netshidatzi and his team developed a smart glove prototype. It connects to a mobile app.and uses motions sensors to translate sign language into speech.
Having grown up in rural Limpopo, Netshidatzi understands that most people do not speak English. The app. comes in several South African languages and also works the other way around.
“Me as a hearing person who doesn’t understand sign through the mobile application, I can talk and then the system detect voice and translates to South African sign language animation so that you know, deaf people can see what you’re saying,” said Netshidatzi.
There are 4 million people who are hard of hearing in South Africa. The glove could change how they live, work and go about their daily tasks.
“We want them to be independent, and also for them to have privacy because when it comes to the deaf community, whenever they are consulting at hospitals, there has to be a third party to interpret, whenever they’re consulting in the banks. They need to be independent, they need to have a privacy of their finances,” said Netshidatzi.
He estimated that 1 million dollar investment is needed to move the glove from the prototype phase into full scale production.