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Google AI Impact Challenge Invests US$750k grant in Brazilian App Hand Talk

7 May 2019

HandTalk, a real-time translation platform for Brazilian sign language, received a US$750k grant from as one of 20 global winners of the Google AI Impact Challenge.

(Press Release) Google announced today that Hand Talk is one of the 20 organizations that will share $25 million in grants from, credit and consulting from Google Cloud and coaching by Google’s AI experts as a grantee of the Google AI Impact Challenge. The Google AI Impact Challenge was an open call to nonprofits, social enterprises, and research institutions from around the world to submit their ideas to use AI to help address societal challenges. Over 2600 organizations applied.

Hand Talk will receive a 750.00 USD grant to invest in the improvement of the sign languages translation service. The Brazilian startup works with the translation from portuguese to Libras (the Brazilian Sign Language), looking for providing accessibility to the deaf community.

The service consists in two main products: the Website Translator, a very practical tool that solves the lack of accessibility problem with a simple click. After the Translator activation, the user is presented to Hugo, a friendly interpreter, that translates the website’s texts to sign language. Besides this, Hand Talk also has an app, that works like a pocket translator. Having already more than two million downloads, the mobile app translates voice and text automatically from portuguese to Libras. It also has a dictionary function for educational signs, that are very useful for deaf students during the schooling process.

This kind of technology development is really important because according to the WHO (World Health Organization), there are around 360 million deaf people around the world, and 80% of them cannot understand the spoken and written language of their respective countries.

With the AI Google Challenge investment, the goal is improving the translation quality, and focusing in the Hand Talk’s internationalization, starting the translation service from English to ASL (American Sign Language).

For five days, all the 20 organizations will join Google AI experts, Project Managers and the startup specialists from Google’s Launchpad Accelerator in San Francisco, California, for a program that will last six months, from May to November 2019. Through the Launchpad program, each of the 20 grantees will develop their own OKRs – Objectives and Key Results and set timelines for project completion. Each organization will be paired a Google expert who will meet with them regularly for coaching sessions, and will also have access to other Google resources and expert mentorship.

“We received thousands of applications to the Google AI Impact Challenge and are excited that Hand Talk was selected to receive funding and expertise from Google. AI is at a nascent stage when it comes to the value it can have for the social impact sector, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work and considering where there is potential for use to do even more”, said the Google spokesperson.

About Hand Talk

Founded in 2012, Hand Talk makes automatic translations from portuguese to Libras, the Brazilian Sign Language. Having the mission of breaking the communication barrier between the Deaf and the hearing, the startup is led by Hugo, a friendly virtual interpreter that is present in a plugin for websites and an app that works like a pocket translator – awarded by the UN as the World’s Best Social App.

About, Google’s philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues worldwide and apply radical, data-driven innovation to solving the world’s biggest challenges.