How Artificial Intelligence AI can Help the Disabled.

Before we move on to the blog, let us inculcate the habit of using a better word, Artificial Intelligence for the Disabled Specially-abled.

Just like humans, technologies evolve. The early computers were as big as our living rooms and today we carry them in our bags. Back in the 90’s telephones were big, heavy, and unpleasant but today they aren’t less than a finely crafted masterpiece. So for all we know, technology changes constantly not only in terms of the software but the hardware as well.

The world population is over 7 billion and over 15% of the population faces disability in one form or the other.

Braille for the visually impaired, hearing aid for the hard of hearing, wheelchairs for a physical malady, are among the most common forms of proxies. Technology has helped mankind in a myriad of ways. With all the buzz being around Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning techniques, AI’s abilities are inevitably up on a pedestal.

So we will talk about a few ways AI can help the disabled specially-abled. Advances in AI like Speech-to-Text transcription, predictive text, and facial recognition promise a better future.

AI is Bridging the gap for the visually impaired.

Efforts are being taken to create a more accessible environment for the visually impaired. Text-to-speech can help to describe emoji from pictures. This could possibly serve as a digital eye, thanks to various AI techniques.

It is also interesting to see how the visually impaired can be profited by self-driving cars. At 100 per cent efficiency, self-driving cars can unable hassle free transport and even help to understand the location. Researchers are also working on an idea which they call ‘the smart cane’ which would be a cane hosting a hidden camera, GPS, and facial recognition system.

In a promising movie, Microsoft has developed apps that can describe what people see and feel. By using text-to-speech and speech-to-text we can ensure there is less typing involved.

AI for Accessibility’, which is a five-year program by Microsoft, with an investment of $25 million, promises to put AI in the hands of developers to make the environment more accessible by providing AI solutions for the specially-abled.

“AI can be a game changer for people with disabilities. Already we’re witnessing this as people with disabilities expand their use of computers to hear, see and reason with impressive accuracy,” -Brad Smith, President and CLO at Microsoft.

According to surveys, only one in ten people with any form of disability have access to any form of assistive technologies or products.

Microsoft is also assisting the hearing impaired with real-time captioning for conversations. The students of Amity International School in Gurugram developed an app called ‘Practikality’ which is a machine learning based assistant which helps the differently-abled communicate efficiently.

Inventor and IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa, who has been visually impaired since the age of 14 talks about the various technologies that can help the visually impaired explore the world differently. Watch her entire Ted Talk to know more.

Ellie Southwood, who has sight loss says the Amazon Echo dot makes her feel more included. “I spend far less time searching for things online; I can multi-task while online and be more productive. Microsoft’s Seeing AI app means I can recognize people and scenarios and make up my own mind about what’s going on.”

AI is powerful enough.

Advances in artificial intelligence promise a more inclusive environment for the masses. Bio-metric attendance systems make it easier for people with dyslexia who find it difficult to remember passwords login easily. Predictive text, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, have already showcased promising results when it comes to helping people with vision and hearing impairment.

Another application where Artificial Intelligence is making its presence felt is Exoskeletons. Technology is drastically changing for the paralyzed as well. Robotic exoskeletons have made it easy for people with physical deformities to walk around. Although the technology is still improving, the possibilities are infinite.

Be it caring or helping them walk around the city normally, AI holds the potential to make public places far more accessible for people with medical conditions occurring waist and below.

GnoSys is a smartphone application explicitly developed for the deaf and mute people. Also called the ‘Google translator for the deaf and mute’, the app uses natural language processing, neural networks, and computer vision to translate gestures and sign language to speech.

According to the National Deaf Association of India, 18 million people are hearing impaired or suffer from the hard of hearing. The app is expected to hit the Indian market in 2019 and promises to change the lives of 18 million people in India alone.

Roman Wyhowski Founder & CEO Evalk believes the app is the need of the hour as most of the existing translation software in the market are slow and expensive. Showcased in Netherlands recently, GnoSys can translate as fast as a person speaks, translate sign languages to text and speech, and can be plugged into assistants as well.

Whether it is to assist or to empower them, Artificial Intelligence technologies will aid to leave no stone upturned to create an impact in the lives of the specially-abled, both physically and mentally.

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