Break­ing the si­lence with tech

Gary Rolf, se­nior art di­rec­tor at Memac Ogilvy, ex­plains how an app he de­vel­oped for his grand­par­ents won the in­au­gu­ral in­no­va­tion grand prix

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

When Gary Rolf wanted to help his grand­fa­ther chat with his deaf wife, he didn’t think he would win a Lynx grand prix.

Spu­ble is an idea that helped to bring my amaz­ing Nan, Bett, back into the con­ver­sa­tion af­ter 10 years of liv­ing in si­lence. Bett and Bob were pen friends dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and when they fi­nally met, they fell in love and were mar­ried for 70 years.

Over the years they have given so much to their fam­ily, al­ways be­ing there when­ever needed and of­fer­ing end­less cups of tea. Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Bett had be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult since she lost her hear­ing. Un­for­tu­nately this means the flow­ing con­ver­sa­tions ev­ery­one used to have with her had be­come a thing of the past. Un­til Spu­ble.

Spu­ble was de­signed to cre­ate real-life speech bub­bles in­stantly, so Bett could read what­ever was be­ing said. It uses speech recog­ni­tion to turn the spo­ken word into text on an iPad. The in­ter­face was de­signed in a way that even Bob, who is 96 years old, can eas­ily use it.

I hope that Spu­ble will help oth­ers who suf­fer from hear­ing im­ped­i­ments. My aim is to make it avail­able on all plat­forms in as many lan­guages as pos­si­ble.

With­out want­ing to blow my own trum­pet, over the years I’ve been lucky enough to win four grands prix at the Dubai Lynx. The first was for Dustver­tis­ing, then two for Sprite Cricket Stars and now this one for Spu­ble. I’ve also been for­tu­nate enough to win in­ter­na­tional awards at Cannes, D&AD and the One Show. I have to be hon­est and say that I would swap all of my pre­vi­ous awards (in­clud­ing my cy­cling pro­fi­ciency badge from 1987) for this grand prix for Spu­ble.

The rea­son is that this one is per­sonal. A project born from the love I have for my grand­par­ents, who had suf­fered for many years due to my Nan’s hear­ing loss. I was de­ter­mined to put the skills I had learned over the years to good use and try to do some­thing to fix the prob­lem. I gen­uinely de­signed the app to help my grand­par­ents, not to try and win awards. Now that the app is up and run­ning my aim is to get the word out there in or­der to help as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, like my Nan. Sadly she passed away a short time ago, so as part of her legacy I’m de­ter­mined to share the app with any­one who needs it. For me, I see win­ning awards with Spu­ble as great PR for the idea. In fact, since the Dubai Lynx I’ve al­ready been asked to go to an­other coun­try and talk at a cre­ative con­fer­ence, so it’s pay­ing off al­ready.

In terms of ‘know­ing’ if this was an award win­ner, I don’t think it’s ever pos­si­ble to be 100 per cent sure. Quite a few peo­ple around me never re­ally saw this idea as an award win­ner, but that just spurred me on to do the best job I could. When I heard it had been shortlisted, I phoned my fam­ily straight away. They were all so happy and proud – they sent me good luck mes­sages for the pre­sen­ta­tion I had to do. I was first to present in the in­no­va­tion cat­e­gory and was re­ally, re­ally ner­vous (I’ve never been a nat­u­ral pre­sen­ter), but as soon as I started talk­ing the nerves dis­ap­peared and it went as well as I could have hoped.

The awards night was a pretty emo­tional one for me. I didn’t think it would be, but when I saw Bett and Bob on the big screen I felt a bit over­whelmed. The jury pres­i­dent, Ben Jones, in­tro­duced the grand prix win­ner by talk­ing about the jour­ney I had gone through to get to where I was, which trig­gered all the happy me­mories I had mak­ing it. The high­light had been when I tested it for the first time with my grand­par­ents – that mo­ment is fea­tured in the short film. The re­cep­tion I got from ev­ery­one on the night was un­be­liev­able and re­ally meant a lot. Peo­ple who I’d never met be­fore were com­ing up and con­grat­u­lat­ing me. It’s def­i­nitely a night I’ll never for­get.

I’ve al­ready Skyped my Grandad to tell him the good news. He was ab­so­lutely over the moon. I haven’t told him yet but I’m plan­ning on giv­ing him the tro­phy when I go back home in the sum­mer. Know­ing him, it’ll take pride of place on the lit­tle bar in his liv­ing room.

Go­ing for­ward, I’ve en­tered Spu­ble into D&AD and it will be go­ing into Cannes. I know that the com­pe­ti­tion is fierce in th­ese shows, so fin­gers crossed. I’d love to gift my Grandad with an­other tro­phy or two. The more cov­er­age it gets, the more peo­ple it will help – so please share the idea.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.