Hi There Solutions LLC is a startup company developing powerful mobile app solutions that improve communication for the D(d)eaf and Hard of Hearing – and their family and friends – so that no one ever misses a word. The fast-moving company needed an expert AWS services provider to manage its complex backend cloud infrastructure and implement all requisite API integrations to bring the app to launch. Hi There Solutions began its engagement by utilizing Mission Professional Services, and then selected Mission Cloud One to ensure ongoing and optimized support for its mission-critical AWS environment and services.
With Mission, Hi There Solutions successfully launched its award-winning mobile applications to a global audience, with accuracy and uptime that far outperforms alternatives. Mission continues to manage the AWS cloud infrastructure powering Hi There Solutions’ real-time captioning, speech-to-text, text-to-speech, instant messaging, and animated American Sign Language sticker emojis capabilities during video calls or in-person conversations.
“I would absolutely recommend Mission based on their remarkable responsiveness, creativity, forethought, and the seamlessness working together with us and our frontend development firm, KiwiTech. Building Hi There Solutions continues to be an exciting journey, and we’re thrilled to have Mission as our partner.”
John and Chase Prieve, the father-son founding team behind Hi There Solutions, have a family history of hearing loss, and a history of completing successful projects together. The inspiration for the Hi There!!! app began with a friend of Chase who was deaf and primarily read other people’s lips. FaceTime was a primary communication vehicle for the two. However, because lip-readers are only able to understand only about 30% of what is being said, FaceTime calls were a frustrating user experience. The main reason being that the video calls do not provide real-time captions. Asking the question “Why doesn’t FaceTime have real-time closed captioning?”, the team saw the opportunity to create real-time captioning and instant messaging mobile communications solutions to deliver better accessibility and inclusion for the D(d)eaf and Hard of Hearing, and their family and friends. The solutions would include real-time captions, speech-to-text, text-to-speech, instant messaging, and animated American Sign Language sticker emojis – all available during video calls or two-way live conversations.
Lacking development expertise, the team enlisted frontend software developer firm KiwiTech to produce a clickable prototype solution and help identify general backend needs. To achieve a differentiated solution that would meet the goal of ensuring that users “never miss a word,” the startup needed to harness the power of the cloud and key APIs that could deliver unparalleled real-time transcription accuracy at low latency.
“Our whole theme for the user experience was this: we need accuracy, and we need it to be supersonic fast,” said John Prieve, Operations at Hi There Solutions. “That was the universal recommendation of our deaf and hard of hearing influencers, advisors, and consultants. And it quickly proved out; our feedback from beta testers was ‘we’ve been waiting for something like this forever.”
“We’re different from what’s currently available on the market because we believed in 99.9% accuracy and uptime since day one. Other applications charge high prices and still only top out at 90% accuracy. We think that's nonsense: the communication solution should just work, and should it be easy and accessible for all.”
Hi There Solutions outlined its Hi There!!! video chat solution and Just Talk! text chat board solution, requiring APIs for real-time transcription and captioning, SMS within video chat calls, and speech-to-text / text-to-speech functionality. With these requirements in hand, Hi There Solutions sought a partner with the backend development and cloud services management expertise to lead the necessary API integrations and bring the startup’s ideas to fruition.
Hi There Solutions vetted Twilio and Sinch as potential cloud providers, but ultimately discovered that only AWS could meet its API needs and user experience goals.
“Unfortunately, Twilio and Sinch were unable to accommodate our API needs, while AWS and Mission were able to accomplish our goals in a very cost-effective and efficient manner,” said Chase Prieve. “We wanted to have the best end user experience for a deaf or hard of hearing person and their family and friends, and that's why we went with AWS.”
Hi There Solutions sought an AWS managed services provider with the focused expertise to meet its goals, and to serve as a trusted long-term partner. The company found Mission via web searches for top AWS partners working with the APIs that would be needed for real-time captioning. Mission stood out from alternatives by being highly responsive and providing hours of guidance to help the company visualize its solutions and how they would run on AWS, even before a contract was signed. Mission also worked seamlessly with KiwiTech, delivering detailed approaches for each required API, including AWS pricing information.
Mission acts as Hi There Solutions’ AWS infrastructure team, working closely with the startup’s software development firm KiwiTech. The company initially engaged with Mission Professional Services, leveraging AWS funding, and then selected Mission Cloud One to complete its solutions roadmap throughout 2022 and beyond.
Mission utilized numerous AWS services and APIs, including Amazon Polly for text-to-speech, and Amazon Transcribe for speech-to-text that enables real-time closed captioning. AWS Lambda provides serverless computing for creating APIs developed in node.js. Mission also leveraged the Amazon Chime SDK and Amazon Route 53 for availability and scalability. The solutions use S3 buckets for cloud object storage of public assets, an RDS database, a virtual traffic manager (VTM), and Amazon API Gateway. Going forward, Hi There Solutions will also tap Amazon Rekognition for AI/ML-powered video analysis.
Through weekly meetings and daily communication with Hi There Solutions and KiwiTech, Mission ensured that all backend cloud architecture integrated seamlessly with the solutions’ frontend design. With the product launched and online, Mission continues to monitor and manage all infrastructure on AWS.
“Mission was hyper-responsive and extremely hands-on, they came up with great innovations, and partnered really well with KiwiTech,” said Chase Prieve. “They synced very well together.”
“We had a laundry list of APIs we needed when it came to how to implement our backend architecture,.Mission was able to deliver on each and every one of those.”
Backed by Mission and AWS, Hi There Solutions’ Hi There!!! and Just Talk! solutions are now available for download and have earned a global subscriber base. Ahead of Hi There Solutions’ worldwide launch, which was slated to be English-only, Mission advised that AWS Transcribe could provide high accuracy across multiple languages – and deliver even in scenarios where speakers are wearing masks, behind barriers, or in areas with significant background noise. As a result, Hi There Solutions’ applications launched with immediate availability in 10 different languages, expanding the startup’s global reach from the onset. Video captions also achieve 99.9% accuracy, with ongoing ML-powered improvements and transcriptions able to auto-correct in real-time.
“While in beta testing, I went to Colorado Rockies baseball game here in Denver, with about 40,000 people in the stadium and weak cellular service,” said Chase Prieve. “I went up to order a hot dog and a beer, and I used Just Talk! I spoke into it, and it was 100% accurate. And this was with me wearing a face mask, in a loud environment. The accuracy is incredible.”
At the beginning of the company’s relationship with Mission, Hi There Solutions submitted solution wireframes to the Hearing, Health and Technology Matters Innovator awards, in the category of Assistive Technology and Software – Mobile Apps Captioning. The company ended up winning the Innovator Award as an underdog competing with three far-longer-established competitors, earning over 20,000 votes with absolutely no self-promotion. With Mission as its ongoing cloud services partner, Hi There Solutions is confident in its ability to scale its AWS infrastructure going forward.
Looking forward, Hi There Solutions plans to rely on Mission to add support for more languages and to launch new communication solutions in the fields of education, telehealth, wearables, and more – including working with deaf music signers who sign for the rappers Lil Nas X, Chance the Rapper, and Post Malone on an upcoming music app.
The Hi There Solutions team is at the forefront of developing new and innovative solutions that improve how the D(d)eaf and Hard of Hearing interact with their family and friends – and the Hearing world around them – through accessibility and inclusion.