Sunday September 15, 2019
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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.

Next Story

Koala-Tracking App to Protect One of Australia’s Most Famous Native Animals

The furry, tree-dwelling marsupials are in decline in eastern Australia, and authorities hope a multi-million dollar rescue plan will help

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This undated handout from the Australia Zoo received on August 22, 2017 shows a white koala joey on her mother Tia at the Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. VOA

A new koala-tracking app and a marsupial hospital are the latest moves to protect one of Australia’s most famous native animals.  The furry, tree-dwelling marsupials are in decline in eastern Australia, and authorities hope a multi-million dollar rescue plan will help to save them.

The app will help authorities map and track koala populations in New South Wales state, where the furry marsupials are in decline.  Members of the public as well as researchers are encouraged to report koala sightings using the technology.

The koala faces  various threats, including loss of habitat, disease, road traffic accidents and attacks by dogs.  There are also susceptible to the impact of drought and climate change.

In New South Wales and Queensland the famous, and distinctive, animals are listed as vulnerable under national environment laws.  In some areas it is estimated that numbers have fallen by a quarter in the last 20 years.

Koala, Tracking, App
A new koala-tracking app and a marsupial hospital are the latest moves to protect one of Australia’s most famous native animals. Pixabay

How it works 

New South Wales Environment Minister Matt Kean hopes the app will provide an accurate picture of where the koalas are.

“We are calling on the community to download the ‘I Spy Koala’ app on their phones,” said Kean. “That is about getting the community to go out in the wild, in our national parks, identify where koalas are, record it in their app so that we are better placed to protect them into the future.  This is all about ensuring that the koalas can continue to thrive so that future generations can enjoy them.  This is all part of the New South Wales government’s koala strategy, a AUD$44 (US$29.6m) investment in koalas.  (It is) the biggest single investment of any government ever to ensure that koalas are protected and grow into the future.”

Health threats 

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A new koala hospital is being built in Port Stephens, 180 kilometers north of Sydney, and will be part of a wildlife sanctuary that will open next year.

There will also be more research into chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease that has infected many koalas.

Fences to channel marsupials and other animals away from busy roads and into specially-made wildlife tunnels will also be built.

In parts of southern Australia officials say there are too many koalas, and that ‘overabundant’ populations are damaging valuable types of trees.  In some areas there are programs that seek to reduce marsupial numbers.  But further north, conservationists warn that the decline of the koala is an environmental emergency. (VOA)