Wednesday, August 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Through the eyes of another has new meaning with local’s app

Alexa Adams, a UC Davis biotechnology student, was chosen recently for the Google Glass Explorers program. She hopes to develop an app for Glass that uses its visual interface to make auditory cues in the world around us accessible to the deaf. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | April 16, 2013 |

UC Davis student Alexa Adams wants to change people’s perspective — by literally changing what’s in their perspective — using the Google Glass technology.

Google’s Project Glass, which was first announced last year, are futuristic glasses that would provide what’s essentially an augmented reality for its users. It’s a heads-up display that offers many of the same features of the Android smartphone, such as navigation, email and video conferencing.

Adams, a second-year undergrad studying biotechnology with an emphasis in bioinformatics, means to create a program for the wearable computer that would allow for the deaf to be notified of sounds in the environment and eventually even interact with those unfamiliar with sign language.

Adams’ application would make visual stimuli out of surrounding auditory cues — picked up from the device’s microphone — such as bicycle bells, screeching tires or crosswalk chirps. With further development, speech recognition and captioning may become another possibility.

With lip reading hardly being an exact science, and interpreters not always at the ready; Adams said the app could improve communication between the hearing and deaf worlds. It’s a passion that has deepened from her early exposure to the deaf community.

“The reason why I have an interest in the deaf is because I grew up with an aunt who interprets from the hearing-impaired at a Modesto city school,” she said. “She taught me sign language.

“I went to a summer camp every year where there were deaf students, and I got to see first-hand the difficulty there is in interacting anywhere outside a classroom — even in it can be challenging.”

Adams also made many friends in the deaf community at camp. She recalled playing games outdoors with them, and struggling to get their attention during times when they weren’t looking her direction.

It’s those young experiences that became the impetus for her to get involved in the Google Glass Explorers program through a contest held on Twitter, wherein participants devoted 50 words to what they believe could be done with the technology.

The idea to use the Glass in the way that she plans to was accepted, which allows her an opportunity to get a Google Glass prototype and develop a program for it. She’s committed to following through, and seeing her concept in tangible form.

“I feel that if I can be using my skills to help other people, then why not,” Adams said. “Since I’m connected to the deaf community, and it’s something I’m passionate about, it’s a perfect niche to fall into.”

Her goal is not a profit-driven one. She intends for the app to be monetized — through advertisements — only if she needs to cover any charges that Google may levy for publishing an app.

Instead, Adams explained that her priority is assisting the deaf community. She’s eager to get their feedback, first and foremost, when working on the app.

“I talked to my aunt, who invited me to visit her school once I get the prototype, to get comments from her students,” she said. “I talked to a few of my friends who are deaf, and they’re really excited about it.”

“This app is not a replacement for sign language, it’s an aid for people who don’t know it to communicate with the deaf,” Adams added.

The one thing that holds her back is the cost of a prototype model of the device. Google will not waive the fee, and responded to her request to do so with a cold but logical answer — if they did it for one, they’d have to do it for all 8,000 developers.

Unfortunately, Adams isn’t a professional developer with full financing backing. She has raised only $125 of $2,500 she needs thus far, which includes $1,500 for the Glass and another $1,000 for the required tools.

The route she has chosen to raise the funds is a Piggybackr account, an online fundraising tool. Donations may be made at goo.gl/J5s4a.

“Every little bit helps, and will go to a good cause,” she said. “I’m not looking at profit, I’m looking at empowering individuals to interact in a world that’s not always the most welcoming.”

If she can raise the money, Adams said she will devote her entire summer to developing the app. She’s already started some of the work, though she’s not sure of the exact programming language the Glass will employ for development.

Because the voice recognition software is built in, as is the camera, she can work within the existing systems to program the app. It’s something she believes she can tackle on her own, and complete within a reasonable amount of time.

“Though I do have a roommate who reluctantly agreed to help me debug,” Adams said with a laugh.

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Summer jobs aren’t always in the bag

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    More details emerge in Woodland officer shootings

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Taking on a Specktacular challenge

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    ‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

     
    School board preps for new academic year

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

    The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Classic car show slated in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Woodland historical award winners announced

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Can’t understand this change

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Bravo! The road diet works

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

     
    Support water bond in November

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Relay for Life team says thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Hard hoops schedule features defending national champs at UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie QB is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sacramento scores early to snap skid

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Food that travels well for cooking out

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

     
    Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6