Who loves the idea of autonomous, driverless taxis best? Hard to say, but anyone who is blind will likely tell you they can’t wait. Why? The human drivers in ride-share apps turn down passengers with guide dogs, and driving with a stranger is that much more stressful when you can’t see them. And fundamentally, it’s about mobility without reliance on other people. That’s why Lighthouse and NFB took a big interest in Waymo’s San Francisco rollout and even took up the cause for the autonomous taxis.
Envision is a pioneer in the effort to connect computer vision with everyday life in the form of tech-enabled glasses that can tell a blind user about their surroundings. Using the Google glass platform, Envision found a market with blind users who value a hands-free interaction, and the experience only got better with the launch of scene description AIs in the past two years. But what’s really changed the game for Envision is generative AI, and the tantalizing possibility of a multimodal AI that’s more like an all-around personal assistant.
Immediately following this session, Karthik Mahadevan will be available to take questions live in a breakout session.
To watch the recently released “All The Light We Cannot See” with audio descriptions “on” is a revelation, at least for a sighted person. The audio description uses words sparingly to augment the obvious soundscape and to call out subtle details anyone might easily miss. It’s art only a human team could produce (sorry AI proponents), but then it’s also expensive and time consuming. In that regard, producing alt text for images online or audio descriptions for video face the same challenge: how to do more and do it well. At Scribely and MAX, the human-first approach is uppermost, but they are also exploring how AI and related tech can be narrowly channeled to speed up their vital work.
Nearly four years ago, Salesforce stepped ahead in the tech and corporate world by announcing the formation of an Office of Accessibility, charged with pulling together all the strands of accessibility across the CRM giant, including workforce development, product development and design, and customer relations. Sight Tech Global touched base with the fledgling effort in 2020 and in this session we’ll hear what the accessibility team has learned after three years work to ensure every aspect of Salesforce embraces accessibility.
At Sight Tech Global we rarely track products from year to year, but APH’s Monarch tactile display for the education market is an important exception. APH’s collaboration with Humanware and DOT is targeted at the education market to deliver not just a ground-breaking dynamic Braille tablet that can “receive digital textbooks from APH and other providers, significantly reducing the time to fingertips for our students” and at the same time render the charts and graphs crucial to STEM education. Add to that the possibilities of the past year’s breakthroughs in generative AI, and Monarch’s horizon looks even more exciting.
Immediately after this session, Greg Stilson will be available for live questions in a breakout session listed in the agenda.
With new partnerships to lean on and generative AI looking to make their dynamic tactile display more useful than ever, the founders of the DOT pad return to Sight Tech Global to discuss how their vision for the breakthrough device is fast evolving, including a new, faster Dot Pad that can refresh in the blink of an eye.
Did that mechanical voice just say it’s safe to cross the street? It’s a dilemma every blind person faces when they are about to step off the curb. What if the camera on the back of your mobile phone could assess the signals and your path to make a crossing safer? A small team of AI engineers at the startup AYES took on that challenge and created the OKO app, which uses computer-vision-based AI to “read” the signals and suggest when it’s safe to cross. How does the app work and just how safe is it?
Microsoft’s Saqib Shaikh co-founded the Seeing AI app, which was one of the first deployments of AI computer vision in an app to help blind users “narrate the world around you” by using AI to describe nearby people, text and objects. Shaikh’s employer, Microsoft, is a leading investor in OpenAI, the organization that created the ground-breaking chatGPT, a type of AI called “generative” because of its ability to “generate” novel content in response to questions. Today, Seeing AI can tell you there is a chair in the room because it is “trained” to identify a chair. With chatGPT, Seeing AI might be able to answer a random question it was not specifically trained for, such as,”Is there a cat in the room?” The answers chatGPT provides can be wondrous or wildly off base “hallucinations,” in the lingo of AI specialists. Can generative AI’s quirky nature be tamed for accessibility?