Microsoft announces latest AI for Accessibility grant recipients

Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility, which was once unveiled in Would possibly 2018, is the Seattle corporate’s 2nd so-called AI for Excellent program. It follows at the heels of — and was once in large part modeled after — the corporate’s AI for Earth, which supplies coaching and sources to organizations having a look to take on issues on the subject of local weather, water, agriculture, and biodiversity. Thru it, Microsoft pledged $25 million over the next 5 years for universities, philanthropic organizations, and others growing AI equipment that serve the ones with disabilities.

9 organizations and tasks — together with Zyrobotics, iTherapy’s InnerVoice, Provide Good friend, Equadex’s Helpicto, Abilisense, Timlogo, the College of Iowa, the Indian Institute of Science, and the Frist Heart for Autism and Innovation — have been awarded AI for Accessibility grants in 2018 to paintings on a spread of tasks. And these days along side International Accessibility Consciousness Day, Microsoft introduced the latest cohort of recipients. Right here’s the listing:

  • The College of California, Berkeley
  • Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a educating clinic of Harvard Clinical Faculty
  • Voiceitt in Israel
  • The College of Sydney in Australia
  • Birmingham Town College in the UK
  • Pison Era of Boston
  • Our Skill, of Glenmont, New York

AI for Accessibility is overseen by way of Microsoft leader accessibility officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft senior accessibility architect Mary Bellard, and others and rewards essentially the most promising applicants in 3 classes — paintings, existence, and human connections — with seed grants and follow-on financing every fiscal quarter. Proposals are authorized on a rolling foundation and are evaluated “on their clinical benefit,” along with their innovativeness and scalability.

“What stands proud essentially the most about this spherical of grantees is how such a lot of of them are taking usual AI functions, like a chatbot or information assortment, and in reality revolutionizing the price of generation in conventional situations for an individual with a incapacity like discovering a task, with the ability to use a pc mouse or expecting a seizure,” mentioned Bellard. “[The research being done] … is crucial step in scaling out there generation around the globe. Individuals are searching for merchandise or services and products to make issues more straightforward and AI could possibly assist.”

Microsoft profile of John Robinson of Albany, NY

Above: John Robinson.

Symbol Credit score: Scott Eklund / Pink Field Footage

Towards that finish, Our Skill, a company based 2011 to compare disabled activity seekers with “significant” occupation alternatives, will workforce up with scholars from Syracuse College to create an AI-powered chatbot that fits companies with would-be employees. Particularly, it’ll help with filling out forms, figuring out the talents required for most sensible jobs, and surfacing paintings profiles.

Our Skill founder John Robinson, who was once born with out decrease palms or legs, famous in a commentary that the unemployment price amongst other people with disabilities is set two times as top — 7.nine% — as the ones with out them. “[The chatbot] will supply a a lot more speedy method of having extra other people to connect to one any other. Through developing a spot the place we assess real-life abilities, educate real-life abilities and fit them with employment — that’s each incapacity activity trainer’s purpose within the ultimate 50 years,” he mentioned. “We’re going in an effort to do it with generation so much sooner and significantly better.”

As for Pison Era cofounder Dexter Ang, an MIT graduate whose mom suffered from the neurodegenerative dysfunction amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he hopes to commercialize a cheap wearable that’ll permit other people with neuromuscular problems to keep an eye on virtual units. Similar to startup Ctrl-labs’ drawing close Ctrl-kit, it’ll leverage AI algorithms to translate muscle neuron EMG (electromyography) indicators into movements, like simulating a mouse click on.

“Our proprietary generation can sense nerve indicators at the floor of the surface,” mentioned Ang. “In an effort to handle and building up get right of entry to to that virtual global is phenomenally necessary for other people with disabilities.”

In the meantime, senior lecturer on the College of Sydney’s school of engineering and knowledge applied sciences Omid Kavehei is growing with colleagues an AI instrument that may learn an individual’s electroencephalogram (EEG) information by way of a wearable cap, after which keep in touch that information from side to side to the cloud to supply seizure tracking and signals. It goals the greater than 50 million other people international who reside with epilepsy, as estimated by way of the Global Well being Group.

Kavehei and workforce intend to check a cap on epilepsy sufferers the usage of using simulations, and to leverage Microsoft’s Azure Device Studying carrier to try to expect seizures from human indicators.

“To have a non-surgical tool to be had for the ones residing with epilepsy will make a vital distinction to many, together with members of the family, pals, and naturally the ones impacted by way of epilepsy,” mentioned Epilepsy Motion Australia CEO Carol Eire, a gaggle that’s running with the researchers at the challenge. “This sort of tool would remove the concern part of when and if a seizure might happen, making sure that the individual residing with epilepsy can get right into a protected position temporarily.”

Decided on 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 challenge’s scope and desires, and extra finances to hide prices associated with gathering or labeling information, refining fashions, or different engineering-related paintings. Additionally they acquire get right of entry to to Microsoft engineers, who paintings with them to boost up building and incorporate their inventions into “platform-level” spouse services and products.

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