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Jordanian start-up developing sign language apps will compete at Swiss summit

By Mohammad Ghazal - Aug 17,2016 - Last updated at Aug 17,2016

Mind Rockets team members pose for a group photo following the company’s recent selection as the best start-up in Jordan, in a ceremony hosted by Amman (Photo courtesy of Mind Rockets)

AMMAN — A Jordanian start-up, Mind Rockets Inc., has been selected to compete for over $500,000 in equity investment at Seedstars World, a global summit in Switzerland. 

Mind Rockets Inc. develops assistive technologies for the deaf community, using avatars to translate speech and text into sign language.

The company was one of 11 Jordanian start-ups to present their ideas to an international panel in Amman, held at Orange’s Business Innovation Growth (BIG) Accelerator, Seedstars World said in a statement. 

Mind Rockets Inc. was selected as the best start-up in Jordan for its unique approach to translation, technology and social impact, and won the chance to attend the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland in April, the statement said. 

The company will also have the chance to participate in a weeklong training programme, with the opportunity to meet investors and mentors from around the world, Seedstars World said. 

On the final day of the summit, participants can pitch to an audience of 1,000, with the possibility of winning over $500,000 in prizes and equity investments. 

Mind Rocket Inc. was launched in March, but the idea came to one of the co-founders in 2008, when he was in 10th grade, said Malek Zuaiter, the company’s business development executive. 

“We have the technology to make any service deaf-friendly, furthering the independence and engagement of the deaf community into our society. So far we have launched two mobile applications that translate text or speech to sign language instantly, using an animated avatar,” Zuaiter told The Jordan Times.  

The company’s first app, Mimix, an American sign language interpreter, has 32,000 users in the US and Canada and will soon be available in 3D, he said, adding that an Arabic version, Turjuman, was launched this week. 

The company will release a video interpreter in the coming months, in which avatars will appear in a corner of a screen to interpret any movies or videos, Zuaiter said.

On Sunday, Mind Rockets Inc. will launch a free translation website that can translate any language to American or Arabic sign languages, Zuaiter said, adding that many more products are being developed. 

Mind Rockets Inc. has also reached the second elimination round in the K-Startup Grand Challenge in Korea, competing with around 2,400 start-ups worldwide to reach the stage, according to Zuaiter. 

“This is a great achievement and our advice to entrepreneurs who have start-ups or are working on some ideas is to focus on social impact…. Having a positive social impact is key for a start-up to succeed,” said Zuaiter, adding that one of the key challenges the project faced was bureaucracy at public agencies.

The Seedstars World event in Amman brought together entrepreneurs from Jordan and beyond. 

Other start-ups that participated in the competition include Audiogram, an app that enables mobile phone users to listen to audio content related to their interests instead of listening to ringtones when placing calls, according to the Seedstars World statement. 

The app, which took second place, allows users to specify their interests, follow their favourite publishers, and receive audio content every time they make a call.

Arabot, a conversational artificial intelligence platform for the Arabic language, delivering the first smart Arabic chatbot for businesses, came in third place, the statement said. 

 

Seedstars (http://www.seedstars.com) is a global organisation based in Switzerland that aims to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology, and to develop and foster start-up ecosystems by connecting, building and investing in driven entrepreneurs, the statement added.

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