NYU Stern - Deaftel Phone Service


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  • Hey guys my name is kunal batra and I am the founder of Deaftel, a new type of phone service for the deaf. Now I am going to go out on a limb here and say that either all of you or almost all of you will not be users of my product. So before I go on any further I just want you to imagine this scenario. Your calling your husband/wife/a loved one, a doctor or a lawyer. However instead of speaking with them directly, your talking to somebody at a call center( could be male or female). Whatever you say, they relay to the person your calling. And then the same applies in the other direction. Whatever your loved one says gets spoken to the person in the call center than this relay operator speaks the message back to you. This happens until the conversation is over. However the conversation is only over until you speak a certain special word that the relay operator recognizes and then will disconnect the call. There is no true sense of privacy. However privacy is not the only issue.
  • There is also a complexity with the system. If you wanted to call a deaf individual you can’t dial his or her number directly. You have to call the relay operator. So if you live in the state of new york you dial 711 which connects you with the relay operator service. Then you provide the relay operator with certain pieces of information such as the number of the deaf person you want to call, their name and your name. Also every time someone is done talking they have to either say “Go Ahead” or the deaf person has to type it if using text relay. And finally when the conversation is over either the deaf or hearing person has to say or type the words Signing Off.
  • So with Deaftel, I want to transform the current method of making phone calls to be as close as possible to how you or do it on a daily basis. A hearing user can directly dial the deaf users phone number. Deaftel converts the voice of the hearing user into text and sends that to the deaftel users smart phone. The text response of the Deaftel user is then converted into voice(male or female based on the gender of the deaftel user) and then played for the hearing user. No special codewords needed. The Deaftel user will be able just purchase a phone plan based on how many minutes he or she expects to use from our website just like a hearing person does from att, verizon or sprint and will be billed on a monthly basis. I use the image of the robot shown in the slide to emphasize the fact that there is no person sitting inbetween your phone call which makes for a more private conversation.
  • So before I go into the demo I just quickly want to go over why I created Deaftel since its always the first question I get asked. I am not deaf nor do I know anybody who is deaf. So while working on my previous Start Up Social Roots. I decided to enter Twilio’s holiday anything goes contest in december of last year. I created the first prototype of deaftel and called it hipfone. It was just javascript/php based. I didn’t win but became a runner up, so twilio wrote a short blurb on their blog. That somehow got picked up on a few other blogs. So starting from January of 2011 I started receiving these compelling emails from people in the deaf community asking me when they could use my service. I pasted one of the emails that really touched me on the slide. So around November and some hundred emails later I decided to work on this full time and see if there was a demand. So I created a landing page describing what the service does and a twitter account and started following the max number of people twitter would allow me which was 2000. I used it as as kind of a cheap way of advertising. Within the first 2 hours out of the 2000 people I followed 500 visited the website and left their email stating they were interested or other relay operators asking how my product worked and asking to meet up and discuss my solution in person.
  • NYU Stern - Deaftel Phone Service

    1. 1. 2 Current Problem• Imagine calling a loved one, Doctor, Lawyer• Can’t speak directly• Complex Procedure (special code words)• No privacy
    2. 2. 3Current Calling Procedure Step 2 Step 5 Step 6 Step 1 Caller provides the Step 3 Step 4 The Relay Operator When the partiesCaller dials 7-1-1. A relay operator with The Relay Operator Both the caller and are ready to end will type everythingRelay Operator will the number along dials that number, the called parties the call, the caller they hear back toanswer the call by with other announces to the should use "GA" or or call recipient the TTY user, and saying "New York information such as called party that "Go Ahead" when uses "SK" or voice everythingRelay," and his/her their name, the they are receiving a they are finished "Signing Off" to the TTY user types Operator ID #. person they are relay call. typing/talking. close the to the called party. calling, etc. conversation. (Source: www.nyrelay.com)
    3. 3. 4 About Deaftel Deaftel is a phone service that lets the Deaf, Hard of Hearing & those with speech impediments talk to anyone over the phone. Voice TextAny Hearing User Deaftel Smartphone Deaftel Robot User
    4. 4. 5History of Deaftel Contest Entry Began as a contest entry for“I am profoundly hearing impaired. I do not the “Anything Goes” Twilio Programming Contest.sign. …Many places like doctors offices will notuse a relay/tty service to call me aboutappointment changes. They just wait till I drive Emails2 hours then tell me there that my While working on my previous startupappointment was changed…I am desperate!” Socialroots.com, I just kept receiving emails from the deaf community asking to use this service. -R Received March 26th 2011 Deaftel Signup By the end of the first day I had a little over 500 users signup showing their interest. There was no advertising other than creating a Facebook and Twitter page.
    5. 5. 6Deaftel on TwitterGreat Resource for testing out ideas and checking Interest 1) Put up webpage 2) Create Business to collect emails to Twitter Account check for interest. 3) Customize Twitter 4) Follow People who background & Bio to could be potential link to your website. users. Respond back to all users who took the time out to say they are interested.
    6. 6. 7Deaftel Demo Video
    7. 7. 8 ContactUsManagement@Deaftel.com Twitter @kunal732 & @deaftel Facebook facebook.com/deaftel