By Lauren Keyson
Kunal Batra: Phone Service for the Deaf
Kunal Batra 28 is the founder of Deaftel, a new program that allows deaf people to talk over the phone with any hearing person in the world. Originally he went to the NJ Institute of Technology, graduating with a degree in computer science. He decided to try a startup rather than take the traditional route of getting a job at another company. The unusual thing is that he came up with the idea by accident – he had entered a programming contest and thought it would be cool to do something with voice. Currently he is demoing it, and plans to launch in March 2012. He is currently looking for funding.
How does it work?
We take the hearing person’s voice, convert it into text and then take the deaf person’s response and convert that back into voice. So the deaf can have phone conversations with anybody.
Has this been tried before?
No one else does this. How it has been working is that there are three people on a phone call for deaf people. One person who is deaf is typing, and then the hearing operator takes that and speaks it to the hearing person — so there is no privacy at all. And there is no competition for Deaftel right now.
How big is your team?
So far it’s just me. It’s really new. I stumbled upon it randomly, and the funny thing is that I don’t really know any deaf people. I created something that people needed that no one ever thought of.