Empathic app helps carers interpret the emotions expressed by nonverbal (nonspeaking) people as they vocalise. Artificial intelligence analyses voice recordings of between 3 and 10 seconds before interpreting up to 10 emotions. Empathic is designed for individuals who are not able to use existing communication aids. There are very few assistive technologies to support those who live with severe or profound brain injury, autism, learning disability, stroke, dementia and numerous other conditions. Years of testing indicates that Empathic could enhance the lives of people who use fewer than 20 reliable, functional words.
Typically, there are one or two people who understand each nonverbal individual, but there can be many others in their circle of support. Empathic can help carers, teachers, family members and friends to understand when a nonverbal child or adult is enjoying an activity and when they are bored or confused. Empathic includes a Companion feature which enables account holders to invite 20 others to use the app without charge. Companions typically report that using Empathic led to a better understanding of the nonverbal person. This enriched the time they spent together and often led to a more positive mood. They also noted a reduction in challenging behaviours because it was easier to identify frustration and to address this before it could escalate.
Over the past three years, the seamlessCARE team has worked with families, residential care, day care and home care providers to collect recordings from nonverbal individuals as they expressed their feelings. Many test participants agreed to collect data for Emphatic’s AI because they knew that one of the co-founders, Dr Aviva Cohen, had been a family carer for 14 years. Aviva has been researching and developing assistive technologies since 2006 and she completed an AssistID/Marie Curie post doctoral research Fellowship in University College Dublin and Queens University Belfast.
Empathic app was launched in February 2023 and the seamlessCARE team have already won AI Ireland’s award for Best application of AI in a startup as well as the NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year award. The company is supported by Angle investor Dr Frank Dolphin, former chair of the HSE and by Enterprise Ireland.