According to China’s National Survey of Disability, hearing-related problems are the country’s most common disability. Some 1.67% of China’s population suffer from hearing impairment. For iQIYI, China’s leading online entertainment service provider, that equates to 23.1m potential customers.

At the annual China Internet Audiovisual Conference in Chengdu over the weekend iQIYI unveiled the world’s first artificially intelligent sign language interpreter, allowing hearing impaired viewers to enjoy its catalogue of content.

Announcing the technology iQIYI Vice President Xie Danming said:

“iQIYI is proud to present our AI sign language interpreter, which will revolutionise the entertainment experience for our hearing-impaired users, leveraging the power of AI for the disabled.”

The technology interprets audio within the content and presents it back to the viewer in sign language. iQIYI’s AI speech interpreter will make use of Automatic Speech Recognition Technology and Natural Language Procession, which is able to recognise individual words and convert this into grammatically correct sign language.

Deep learning processes will allow the AI to develop over time, eventually leading to more accurate interpretations and a wider range of uses. The company hopes that the technology will eventually be used in news broadcasts and weather forecasts, among other things.

The technology is represented by a 3D avatar, which can be customised depending on the type of content that the user is viewing.

“iQIYI is committed to bringing the very best in entertainment experience to all our users,” Danming said. “And we go the extra mile to make sure disabled users receive the help they need to make this a possibility.”

iQIYI: The Netflix of China

Often referred to as the Netflix of China, iQIYI is at the forefront of innovation in China’s entertainment content market, using a combination of advanced AI, big data analytics and other new technologies to give its users the content and services that they want.

Since launching in 2009, the company has seen its share price grow to almost $15bn, as the company became the go-to platform for video content.

According to iQIYI, its platform featured 42 of the 50 most popular drama series, variety shows and films streamed online in China last year.