Predictive typing company SwiftKey has announced that it wants to help people who cannot communicate verbally. Today, the company introduced an assistive app that utilizes symbols to create sentences using pictures.
The app, called SwiftKey Symbols, was thought up by SwiftKey staff members who have family members who have autism spectrum disorder and who wanted to create an app that was powered by SwiftKey’s contextual prediction technology.
“We wanted to bring an accessible, free app to people with talking and learning difficulties so that they could communicate more easily with their friends and family,” said the company in a blog post.
The app is free to download for Android, and essentially uses the technology SwiftKey implements to suggest symbols that could be used to complete sentences. Factors like time and day will play a part in these predictions, and users can add their own pictures and use audio to read sentences out loud to other individuals.
Of course, SwiftKey isn’t the first company to create a symbol-based communication app, with apps like TouchChat already available. On Apple’s App Store, however, TouchChat costs $149.99, while SwiftKey’s service is free. Not only that, but SwiftKey claims that its technology should be a lot faster than other options.
“We realized that SwiftKey’s core prediction and personalization technology — which learns from each individual as they use it — would be a natural fit for people on the autistic spectrum who respond particularly well to routine-based activity,” continued the company.
Currently, in the U.S., around two percent of children have some level of autism spectrum disorder. These people obviously have varied needs, so for some, the new app could greatly enhance communication.