SeamlessCare launches app to help non-verbal people communicate

23 Feb 2023

SeamlessCare CEO and co-founder Dr Aviva Cohen. Image: SeamlessCare

The UCD spinout’s Empathic app records a non-verbal person’s vocalisations, which can then be used to identify up to 10 emotions.

Digital health start-up SeamlessCare has launched a new app that uses AI to interpret the emotions expressed by non-verbal individuals.

The app – called Empathic – records a non-verbal person’s vocalisations for up to 10 seconds, which can then be used to identify up to 10 emotions such as happy, sad, excited and frustrated.

The goal of the app is to improve the quality of life for non-verbal or minimally verbal people and reduce the challenging behaviours that can result from not being understood.

SeamlessCare, a University College Dublin spin-out, said it collected thousands of vocalisations from non-verbal people to train the AI behind the app. This AI is trained exclusively on people who can’t use fluent language to better fulfil its purpose.

SeamlessCare was founded in 2021 by Dr Aviva Cohen, Ian Kennedy and Dr Çağrı Çubukçu, with the support of NovaUCD and Enterprise Ireland.

The spin-out is building technology that is focused on enhancing communication and support for people with a wide range of disabilities such as autism, acquired brain injury and dementia.

Last year, the spin-out raised €700,000 to speed up the roll-out of its assistive tech, including Empathic, which was in a closed beta at this stage.

Cohen said the inspiration for Empathic came from caring for her late husband, Steve, who became non-verbal in 2006 after a severe stroke.

“Over time, I learnt to understand him, but it was always difficult for carers, friends and family to know how he was feeling,” Cohen said.

“Two years of development and testing have shown that Empathic could have a significant impact on the quality of life for non-verbal people as well as their families and others who provide support,” Cohen said.

The app is currently available on Google Play and the Apple App Store for €9.99 a month with a one-week free trial period. Each account supports up to three non-verbal people, with the ability to add 20 ‘companion’ users for free such as teachers, carers, support workers, friends and family.

SeamlessCare said the app is also available for use in larger settings such as nursing homes, schools or respite centres as a mobile app or as an API.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic