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August 28, 2014

Upgrade Announced to Videophone for the Hearing Impaired

By Kasey Schefflin-Emrich
TMCnet Contributing Writer

The hearing-impaired community will now have access to a more improved communication experience with Purple Communication's newest version of its SmartVP videophone.

The new SmartVP 2.0 videophone incorporates hardware upgrades and a software update, which together will provide users with higher quality video, a more reliable connection, and various new features.

The Android (News - Alert)-based HD videophone was first launched last year and uses a Video Relay Service to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to communicate with one another and with those who don't know sign language. The service connects the deaf user to an American Sign Language interpreter who vocalizes what is being said to the hearing person and then listens to the hearing person and translates the spoken words into ASL back to the deaf person.

"Thousands in the deaf community are using SmartVP every day to connect with their friends, family and the hearing world -- we intended this to be a life-changing product and now we've taken the next step to provide users with the best possible VRS experience," Purple Communications (News - Alert) CEO John Ferron said in a statement. "We've worked incredibly hard to improve not just the hardware and software, but also our network infrastructure to make the SmartVP 2.0 experience better than ever."

Some of the new features included with SmartVP 2.0 are a more robust Yellow Pages app that now consists of interactive maps and reviews from local restaurants and businesses, the ability to connect an external keyboard for texting purposes, a text box that can be used for taking notes during a call or used to share information that may be difficult to sign such as prescription names, RSS feeds, an enhanced library of deaf videos and movies, and instructional how-to videos in ASL to help users know all about SmartVP's available features.

There is also YouTube (News - Alert) for select ASL channels, a weather app, CaptionFish that helps users find nearby captioned movies and show times, two 360-degree bright notification flashers, and a voice carryover service that lets users use their own voice during a call.

Both the SmartVP 2.0 and video relay service are free for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

In a press release, Purple Communications CTO Tony La Rosa said the newest version of SmartVP is a reflection of the company's commitment of making sure that "the deaf community has access to similar advancements in communication technology as the hearing world."

Edited by Rory J. Thompson


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