Mar 21, 2018
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped" Isaiah 35: 5
Wherever artificial intelligence is discussed, the apocalypticists are not far off. Therefore, we start today with a Bible quote that perfectly describes the current development: Artificial intelligence is currently developing into an important component of inclusion. Inclusion in the sociological, not ideologically coloured form. AI helps the people regardless of their ability to an accepted, equal and self-determined participation in society.
Around 36 million blind and 70 million deaf people worldwide are currently struggling for inclusion (Source: WHO). In addition, there are a large number of people for whom shopping in the supermarket or visiting an unknown restaurant is a challenge due to various restrictions. Here AI can overcome barriers and promote independence. Let’s discuss a few examples below.
"Seeing AI", the flagship project of Microsoft (available free of charge), supports, for example, the interpretation of visual impressions of any kind. Currencies are recognized with ease, scenarios are verbalized in detail and the app even decrypts the facial expressions of individuals. Great potential lies here for those who struggle with the recognition of emotions. Field-testing, the app showed some difficulty with the recognition of age: eyeglasses basically made the individual older and also a long day at the office falsified the interpretation of age greatly. But I have to say that I felt about the age of the app that day. However, the recognition of surface textures and writing worked excellently. The speed with which recorded objects were analyzed and verbalized was also impressive.
Aira, a service based on Google Glasses for people with limited or no vision, is also a good example of where the journey is heading. Currently, most of the services are done by human agents. They interpret and verbalize the user's environment in real time via the augmented reality dashboard - similar to the "Be my Eyes" app. But with "hey Chloe" TM (news release from March 2018), an artificial intelligence that can detect medication takes over and processes some of the human translation performance/stimulus processing. Another good example of the current development, which focuses not only on the healthy, well-positioned hipster in the technical development, is the sign'n App. This translates the written or spoken word into gestures, thus ensuring quick communication.
All applications and services that compensate many constraints are an important step towards inclusion and self-determination. As John Maeda said at SXSW in Austin, "When you are inclusive, there's a huge opportunity to make better products, which leads to more successful business."
In fact, tech companies seem to have less trouble with inclusion. Pay attention to Daisy Playback or OCR, which converts text into a file and plays it via screen reader voice or connected Bluetooth Braille display. Another good example is the award-winning Braille Smartwatch. Accessibility is common sense in the development of many apps and other technical applications today; true to our claim "Human-first in Innovation".
Photo by Rhendi Rukmana on Unsplash