“My everyday life was being controlled by stuttering and it really achieved astronomical proportions in my last year of college, when I had to sit for interviews,” Meet Singhal, who’s behind the speech therapy app Stamurai, narrates his struggles with stuttering and the way it impacted his day-to-day life.
It was in 2019 that IIT-Delhi graduates Singhal, Anshul Agarwal and Harsh Tyagi began growing the Stamurai app. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders, stuttering is a “speech disorder characterised by repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruption of speech known as blocks”. Those who stutter may be fluent, but additionally battle to talk at occasions. Over 70 million folks worldwide stutter and about 15 million Indians have some type of speech dysfunction. Stuttering normally develops in early childhood, between the ages of two and 4.
“We came up with this idea that maybe we can codify the entire experience, and in the process, make speech therapy accessible, affordable and high quality for everyone,” Singhal tells indianexpress.com in a cellphone interview. “Stuttering not only affects a person’s speech but also has a profound impact on his emotional state.”
Stuttering is incurable, although by way of varied speech therapy workouts one can scale back the variety of disfluencies within the speech and assist win again the arrogance within the affected person. “In the traditional offline speech therapy setup, the way it works is that you go to a speech therapist, you have sessions for a few times, and you see an improvement in fluency in quality of life but once those sessions end over 80 per cent of the people relapse back to their behavior,” Singhal explains why continued follow is the one to “get better” together with your speech.
While speech therapy may be efficient at occasions, as Singhal identified, the price of attending periods may be costly, costing wherever between Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 for a six to one-year course. On high of that, India has simply 4000 therapists and there’s a big demand-supply hole that solely a tech resolution can handle.
“If I were to teach you a fluency exercise, and ask you to go out there and practice it with your friends, it won’t work because you will be so scared to go out there and practice. Many of these exercises involve you speaking in a new way,” Singhal tries to clarify why the standard means of speech therapy scares many over the worry of disgrace in entrance of others.
Singhal’s resolution, an app, not solely helps deliver the associated fee down but additionally automates components of speech therapy. “The ideal way of speech therapy happens is you go through a hierarchy of situations, where you start applying the strategies that you have learned in easy situations, and slowly move on to more difficult ones. Once you gain confidence in that process, new strategies are introduced to you.”
“The biggest challenge that we had in mind was that would a user come on to an app, and practice for 30 minutes or one hour for the speech exercises, because unlike watching the movie on Netflix, or a social media feed, this is not an inherently pleasurable experience,” Singhal explains. “This app is like a home practice school for you and is relevant for all age groups.”
Initially, the app was fundamental in nature however over time Singhal and the staff have improved the medical performance and consumer expertise. “We wanted to build the app and use it for ourselves but we started seeing organic growth when the app got published on Google Play Store,” he stated. The Stamurai app, which is accessible on each Android and iOS platforms, has been downloaded over 60,000 occasions until date.
The speech therapy app makes use of the freemium enterprise mannequin, a mixture of free and premium. This means the app is free to obtain however gives some paid, value-add companies to help the enterprise. What makes this app totally different from conventional speech therapy is you can follow workouts by yourself at any time of the day, without having to go to a speech therapist. “We have created a customised training plan for you,” he stated, including that these workouts are a mix of tutorial movies.
The app gives over 30 instruments to assist folks follow these workouts, out of which 5 – 6 are free to use. Users also can work together with specialist speech therapists for individualised consideration however once more that is part of the subscription, which may price Rs 3000 a yr or Rs 1000 per thirty days. The group angle has been given particular emphasis within the Stamurai app, the place customers can work together with different folks on a video name and share their life experiences and the adjustments they’ve seen whereas going by way of the speech workouts.
Although India stays a very powerful marketplace for Stamurai, Singhal says he has seen customers coming from the US, UK, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In the approaching months, the staff plans to increase the attain of the app by including Hindi, Tamil and Spanish language help. Stamurai’s paid subscribers spend round 10 minutes on common every day working towards the workouts, in accordance to Singhal, who himself spends up to half-hour on the app to scale back his stuttering.
“I am still a person who stutters in situations. But the quality of life that I have is much better than it used to be earlier,” Singhal stated, who has been working towards speech workouts for the previous seven years now.
Even although the Stamurai app has been obtained nicely by its customers, Singhal admits the staff is consistently including new options. Based on over 2000 hours of customers’ speech information, the corporate plans to construct an algorithm that may establish parts of speech, that are stuttered versus these which might be fluent. That means it is going to be potential to give customers real-time suggestions as to whether or not these speech workouts they’re doing are making an impression on their fluency over a course of time. In the longer term, the younger startup additionally plans to increase past stuttering and look into different speech problems which might be affecting tens of millions of customers.