Thursday, July 14, 2011

Google+ Video Chat

Google is launching a field test of its video chat with users fluent in ASL. The search giant expects "Hangouts" to be a hit with the deaf and hard of hearing because it allows for multiuser video chat. However, there could be a problem because Hangouts prioritizes the image of users who speak the loudest. It switches its focus based on their microphone input. The company is exploring how this will effect those using sign language and considering developing technology to look for other cues besides volume. The field test is spearheaded by Google Technical Program Manager for Accessibility Engineering Naomi Black and Engineering Director Chee Chew. Chew wrote on his Google+ page, "My grandfather, aunt, and uncle were/are all deaf. while I'm very much a novice, I find ASL to be a beautiful expressive language. I hope that hangouts can be awesome for the deaf & hh community as well as the hearing."