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Talk Different: Autistic child’s mother develops world’s first ‘universal language’ app

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The world’s first smartphone application which allows people speaking different languages and those incapable of speaking to communicate together, has been created by a French mother of an autistic child.

The app was made available for purchase and downloading on Google Play and Apple Store in nine international languages by Sogeti, an affiliate of French computing giant Capgemini.

Developed by Marie Spitz, the Talk Different app uses 700 images, colours, icons and sounds to create messages based on alternative communication techniques she practised to interact with her daughter Pauline, who suffers from speech depriving autism.

Speaking on the advantages her invention offers, Spitz said, “The key to Talk Different, is the ease and accessibility that allows lost travellers, the vocal-or hearing-impaired or other verbally isolated users to construct messages on smartphones or pads that virtually anyone else will understand.

I have worked for over three years on this project with the goal that Talk Different would be accessible to all, for less than a euro on smartphones, while being very easy to use. The application requires no special training”, she said.

What sets the 99 cent app apart from other language apps is its picture-book simplicity, an intentional contrast to the more complex and confounding tools she used while communicating with her daughter.

Patrick Marquet, project manager at Sogeti said, “Talk Different makes everyday communication easier via an intuitive and fun application. With her exceptional vision and drive, Marie Spitz has invented a new way of communicating for people who may not speak the same language or who suffer from a range of disabilities.”

Spitz founded her MPSLS software company to develop and perfect an application using her insights for medical, educational and tourism communication use after working around her daughter’s speech disability for over a decade.

The users can select drawings and photos of various figures, situations, emotions or ideas, and combine them with colour, sound, text and other evocative content to construct easily identifiable messages or questions.

Spitz is already on the way to develop a different version of the app for health workers and the handicapped.

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YouTube Kids launches its Newly Updated App Today

YouTube Kids launches its revamped app today.

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YouTube Logo. wikimedia commons
  • The company Launches its app on Friday.
  • The app enables you to make your child’s profile as per your selection of videos.

On its first anniversary in India, Youtube kids launches its app with new look and feature

Users can now create a profile for each kid and choose between younger or older content levels to manage the types of videos they can watch. Kid profiles work across all different devices.

“With improved connectivity and affordable data plans, we have seen enormous growth in creation and consumption of learning and educational content in the country, making India the fastest growing YouTube Kids country in Asia Pacific,” said Don Anderson, Head of Family and Learning Partnerships, YouTube APAC, in a statement.

With over 800 million learning video views per day, YouTube Kids is now live in 37 countries.

“Designed to put parents in control and appeal to kids in the age group of 2 to 10 years, the newly updated app comes with features that have been incorporated based on extensive research and inputs gathered from kids and parents,” the company said.(IANS)

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Facebook Acquires the Anonymous Teenage Polling App ‘tbh’

An official statement from Facebook said: "tbh and Facebook share a common goal -- of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together"

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Facebook brings the developers of 'tbh' app to share and expand a common goal of making stronger communities. Pixabay

San Francisco, October 17, 2017 : Facebook has acquired ‘tbh’, an anonymous polling app for teenagers which has over 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the US.

The app lets teenagers anonymously answer kind-hearted, multiple-choice questions about friends, who then receive the poll results as compliments, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday.

“When we set out to build tbh, we wanted to create a community that made us feel happier and more confident about ourselves. We felt that people craved genuine and positive interactions in their online experiences,” ‘tbh’ said in a statement.

“Over the last few weeks, over 5 million people have downloaded tbh and sent over a billion messages. More importantly, we’ve been inspired by the countless stories where tbh helped people recover from depression and form better relationships with friends,” it read.

ALSO READ How Facebook is Helping Its Users Fight Identity Theft

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but according to TechCrunch, it is likely to be somewhere around less than $100 million and will not require regulatory approval.

“As part of the deal, tbh’s four co-creators — Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon — will join Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters while continuing to grow their app,” the report added.

“When we met with Facebook, we realised that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realise tbh’s vision and bring it to more people,” ‘tbh’ said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “tbh and Facebook share a common goal — of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together”. (IANS)

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Bacterial infection in pregnancy may up autism risk in kids

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Bacterial infection in pregnancy may up autism risk in kids. Pixabay

New York, September 15, 2017: Babies born to mothers who experience a bacterial infection severe enough to require hospitalisation during pregnancy may be at higher risk of developing autism, a study has found.

The study, conducted on mice, revealed that the composition of bacterial populations in the mother’s digestive tract can influence whether maternal infection leads to repetitive behaviour and impaired sociability — autistic-like behaviours in offspring.

Further, irregularities that the researchers call “patches” are most common in a part of the brain known as “S1DZ” and were responsible for the behavioural abnormalities seen in mice.

“We identified a very discrete brain region that seems to be modulating all the behaviours associated with this particular model of neurodevelopmental disorder,” said Gloria Choi, Assistant Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the paper appearing in the journal Nature.

A second study in the same jounal, revealed that not all mothers who experience severe infection end up having child with autism, and similarly not all the mice in the maternal inflammation model develop behavioural abnormalities.

“This suggests that inflammation during pregnancy is just one of the factors. It needs to work with additional factors to lead all the way to that outcome,” Choi said.

Moreover, the researchers found that only the offspring of mice with one specific type of harmless bacteria, known as segmented filamentous bacteria, had behavioural abnormalities and cortical patches.

When the researchers killed those bacteria with antibiotics, the mice produced normal offspring.

If validated in human studies, the findings could offer a possible way to reduce the risk of autism, which would involve blocking the function of certain strains of bacteria found in the maternal gut, the researchers noted. (IANS)