Microsoft have announced a new grant scheme to encourage developers to think about how artificial intelligence could be used to enhance accessibility for disabled people.
The Microsoft AI for Accessibility scheme aims to support and better the lives of over 1 billion people living around the world with a disability.
As of October 17th Microsoft has 32 grantees around the world, three of which are in Canada. One of these grantees, iMerciv is a Toronto-based start-up, which will not only be receiving the grant but also engineering support from Microsoft
Double Tap TV’s Steven Scott has been discussing the new scheme with Ricardo Wagner, Microsoft Accessibility Lead in Canada at their Toronto offices to find out more. Watch the video below.
A longer version of this interview will air soon on Double Tap TV on AMI-TV with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo from the Microsoft offices in Toronto.
More About iMerciv
Among AI for Accessibility’s latest grantees, iMerciv is developing a navigation app called MapinHood for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision, and who want to choose the routes they take if they’re walking to work, or to any destination. By launching a mobile app based on feedback from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, they intend to label items along navigation routes in Toronto. The app will support the person in choosing what items they might be interested in (e.g. water fountains, benches, ramps, etc.).
The app will audibly alert a person to hazards — from construction to high-crime areas — to avoid while walking, as well as let them know about things they might need, like water fountains, benches or ramps. It’s all based on machine learning, crowdsourced data and open source information from local law enforcement. The app is in now in the initial stages of being tested with help from the nonprofit Canadian National Institute for the Blind, which also worked with iMerciv on the BuzzClip. The app uses iMerciv’s custom routing engine, and with the AI for Accessibility grant, will use Azure machine learning, storage and virtual machines. MapinHood Toronto will also be a template for the app in other cities.
I am an absolute geek who loves technology. I also happen to be severely sight impaired and that has meant my journey with new technology has been challenging. What I've learnt is what I want to share with others and I do that on air in the UK on RNIB Connect Radio's weekly Tech Talk radio show and podcast, and on AMI-Audio's Double Tap Canada radio show and podcast. I'm also a very lucky husband and the owner of the world's coolest dog!