Fri. Jul 19th, 2019

Microsoft proclaims 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 supplies coaching and sources to organizations seeking to deal with issues referring to local weather, water, agriculture, and biodiversity. By means of 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 — together with Zyrobotics, Counting Zoo, Current Pal, Helpicto, Abilisense, Timlogo, the College of Iowa, the Indian Institute of Science, and the Frist Middle for Autism and Innovation — have been awarded AI for Accessibility grants in 2018 to work on a spread of tasks. And at present along side International Accessibility Consciousness Day, Microsoft introduced the latest cohort of recipients. Right here’s the listing:

The College of California, Berkeley
The Schepens Eye Analysis Institute of 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 Know-how 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 essentially 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 essentially the most about this spherical of grantees is how so a lot of them are taking customary AI capabilities, like a chatbot or knowledge assortment, and really revolutionizing the worth of know-how in typical eventualities for an individual with a incapacity like discovering a job, with the ability to use a pc mouse or anticipating a seizure,” mentioned Bellard. “[The research being done] … is a vital step in scaling accessible know-how throughout the globe. Persons are searching for services or products to make issues simpler and AI would possibly have the ability to assist.”

Towards that finish, Our Capability, a company based 2011 to match disabled job seekers with “significant” profession alternatives, will workforce 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 individuals with disabilities is about twice as excessive — 7.9% — as these with out them. “[The chatbot] will present a way more speedy manner of getting extra individuals to attach with each other. By creating a spot the place we assess real-life expertise, practice real-life expertise and match them with employment — that’s each incapacity job coach’s objective within the final 50 years,” he mentioned. “We’re going to have the ability to do it with know-how quite a bit sooner and quite a bit higher.”

As for Pison Know-how 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 individuals with neuromuscular problems to regulate digital gadgets. Very similar to 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 know-how can sense nerve alerts on the floor of the pores and skin,” mentioned Ang. “To have the ability to preserve and enhance entry to that digital world is exceptionally necessary for individuals 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) knowledge through a wearable cap, after which talk that knowledge backwards and forwards to the cloud to offer seizure monitoring and alerts. It targets the greater than 50 million individuals worldwide who stay with epilepsy, as estimated by the World Well being Group.

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

“To have a non-surgical machine accessible for these residing with epilepsy will make a major distinction to many, together with relations, mates, and naturally these impacted by epilepsy,” mentioned Epilepsy Motion Australia CEO Carol Eire, a bunch that’s working with the researchers on the venture. “Such a tool would take away the worry component of when and if a seizure might happen, making certain that the individual residing with epilepsy can get right into a secure 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 venture’s scope and desires, and extra funds to cowl prices associated to gathering or labeling knowledge, refining fashions, or different engineering-related work. In addition they acquire entry to Microsoft engineers, who work with them to speed up improvement and incorporate their improvements into “platform-level” accomplice companies.

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