Sat. Aug 24th, 2019

Microsoft declares newest AI for Accessibility grant recipients

Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility, which was unveiled in Might 2018, is the Seattle firm’s second so-called AI for Good program. It follows on the heels of — and was largely modeled after — the corporate’s AI for Earth, which offers coaching and assets to organizations trying to sort out issues regarding local weather, water, agriculture, and biodiversity. By it, Microsoft pledged $25 million over the next 5 years for universities, philanthropic organizations, and others creating AI instruments that serve these with disabilities.

9 organizations and tasks — together with Zyrobotics, iTherapy’s InnerVoice, Current Pal, Equadex’s Helpicto, Abilisense, Timlogo, the College of Iowa, the Indian Institute of Science, and the Frist Heart for Autism and Innovation — had been awarded AI for Accessibility grants in 2018 to work on a spread of tasks. And right this moment along side World Accessibility Consciousness Day, Microsoft introduced the most recent cohort of recipients. Right here’s the record:

  • The College of California, Berkeley
  • Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a educating hospital of Harvard Medical Faculty
  • Voiceitt in Israel
  • The College of Sydney in Australia
  • Birmingham Metropolis College in the UK
  • Pison Expertise of Boston
  • Our Capability, of Glenmont, New York

AI for Accessibility is overseen by Microsoft chief accessibility officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft senior accessibility architect Mary Bellard, and others and rewards probably the most promising candidates in three classes — work, life, and human connections — with seed grants and follow-on financing every fiscal quarter. Proposals are accepted on a rolling foundation and are evaluated “on their scientific benefit,” along with their innovativeness and scalability.

“What stands out probably the most about this spherical of grantees is how so a lot of them are taking customary AI capabilities, like a chatbot or information assortment, and actually revolutionizing the worth of expertise in typical situations for an individual with a incapacity like discovering a job, having the ability to use a pc mouse or anticipating a seizure,” stated Bellard. “[The research being done] … is a crucial step in scaling accessible expertise throughout the globe. Persons are searching for services or products to make issues simpler and AI may have the ability to assist.”

Above: John Robinson.

Picture Credit score: Scott Eklund / Crimson Field Footage

Towards that finish, Our Capability, a corporation based 2011 to match disabled job seekers with “significant” profession alternatives, will crew up with college students from Syracuse College to create an AI-powered chatbot that matches companies with would-be employees. Particularly, it’ll help with filling out paperwork, figuring out the talents required for high jobs, and surfacing work profiles.

Our Capability founder John Robinson, who was born with out decrease arms or legs, famous in an announcement that the unemployment fee amongst folks with disabilities is about twice as excessive — 7.9% — as these with out them. “[The chatbot] will present a way more fast method of getting extra folks to attach with each other. By creating a spot the place we assess real-life abilities, prepare real-life abilities and match them with employment — that’s each incapacity job coach’s purpose within the final 50 years,” he stated. “We’re going to have the ability to do it with expertise lots sooner and lots higher.”

As for Pison Expertise cofounder Dexter Ang, an MIT graduate whose mom suffered from the neurodegenerative dysfunction amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he hopes to commercialize a low-cost wearable that’ll allow folks with neuromuscular problems to regulate digital gadgets. Very like startup Ctrl-labs’ forthcoming Ctrl-kit, it’ll leverage AI algorithms to translate muscle neuron EMG (electromyography) alerts into actions, like simulating a mouse click on.

“Our proprietary expertise can sense nerve alerts on the floor of the pores and skin,” stated Ang. “To have the ability to keep and improve entry to that digital world is exceptionally necessary for folks with disabilities.”

In the meantime, senior lecturer on the College of Sydney’s college of engineering and data applied sciences Omid Kavehei is creating with colleagues an AI instrument that may learn an individual’s electroencephalogram (EEG) information through a wearable cap, after which talk that information forwards and backwards to the cloud to offer seizure monitoring and alerts. It targets the greater than 50 million folks worldwide who stay with epilepsy, as estimated by the World Well being Group.

Kavehei and crew intend to check a cap on epilepsy sufferers utilizing driving simulations, and to leverage Microsoft’s Azure Machine Studying service to try to foretell seizures from human alerts.

“To have a non-surgical system accessible for these residing with epilepsy will make a big distinction to many, together with relations, pals, and naturally these impacted by epilepsy,” stated Epilepsy Motion Australia CEO Carol Eire, a gaggle that’s working with the researchers on the mission. “Such a tool would take away the worry ingredient of when and if a seizure could happen, guaranteeing that the particular person residing with epilepsy can get right into a protected place shortly.”

Chosen AI for Accessibility candidates obtain compute credit for Microsoft’s Azure AI Platform in increments of $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000, relying on their mission’s scope and wishes, and extra funds to cowl prices associated to amassing or labeling information, refining fashions, or different engineering-related work. Additionally they achieve entry to Microsoft engineers, who work with them to speed up improvement and incorporate their improvements into “platform-level” associate companies.

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