Talang December 2018

Talang, December 2018


8th September 2018

When I think about our company purpose – to create a brilliant connected future for everyone – it’s the last two words in the sentence that cannot be overlooked.

by Jackie Coates Head of Telstra Foundation – Telstra

“For everyone” really does mean for every single person. For the 1 in 6 Australians affected by hearing loss and 357,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision, technology has the ability to educate, engage and empower these individuals like never before.

Through the Tech4Good Challenge, we’ve had the pleasure of working with three exceptional non-profit organisations – Expression Australia, Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children and Vision Australia – who are all passionate about improving accessibility for this sector.

Here are some of their ideas about how technology can help close the gap and create a more inclusive society.

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*********************************************************************************************************ABC News

13th September 2018

Talking gloves, tactile windows: new tech helps the disabled

Hadeel Ayoub slips a black glove onto her hand before beginning the swish of sign language that is meaningless to the untrained observer. Then she pushes a button on her wrist, and a small speaker relays the message drawn in the air: “Let’s Dance!”

“My dream is to give a voice to those who can’t speak,” says the 36-year-old inventor who is developing her BrightSign glove while working toward a Ph.D. in assistive technology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Ayoub’s glove is just one example of a bigger trend as entrepreneurs, startups and companies like Microsoft and Google try to harness the power of artificial intelligence to make life easier for people with disabilities. The initiatives come as the World Health Organization estimates that the number of people needing assistive devices ranging from wheelchairs to communication technologies will double to 2 billion by 2050.

Improvements in artificial intelligence, combined with the decreasing cost of hardware, are making it possible for inventors to develop new products without the need for the deep pockets of governments or corporations. With the help of 3D printers and the increased processing power of home computers, they are creating devices designed for people with motor, vision, hearing and cognitive impairments.

Microsoft and Google are trying to spur work in this area, offering a total of $45 million in grants to developers of assistive technologies. Microsoft says it hopes to identify promising projects that can eventually be incorporated into widely available services.

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20th September 2018

The apps that help blind people shop

Assistive technology is making it easier for visually impaired people to buy groceries, hail rides, and more.

by Nadra Nittle

People with blindness no longer simply use canes and seeing eye dogs to navigate the world but also assistive technology.

For consumers who are blind or have low vision, a shopping trip can be rife with challenges. More than 8 million Americans reportedly have a vision impairment, but they can’t count on store staff to offer assistance or stores to have clutter-free aisles or easy-to-navigate layouts. Just entering or exiting some businesses can be difficult.

Now some tech companies are developing products to make shopping less of an ordeal for customers with blindness or low vision. A San Diego startup called Aira (Artificial Intelligence and Remote Assistance) has launched an app that allows people with vision impairment to connect with trained professionals who remotely provide visual assistance, and is partnering with retail stores and other businesses to integrate the technology.

Suman Kanuganti got the idea for Aira in 2015, after speaking to a blind communications professional about how Google Glass technology could be used to help the blind become more mobile. Aira has described the app as “OnStar for the blind.”

How it works: When users download the Aira app, they’re linked to an operator who accesses their smartphone camera to view their surroundings. (Users pay a monthly subscription fee and can also subscribe to a plan that comes with smart glasses and a camera accessible to Aira operators.)

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Channel News Asia

27th Sept 2018

Young designer invents kitchenware for the blind, but struggles to bring it to market

From a knife with a safety guard to a chopping board with a side tray, the utensils Kevin Chiam has developed could be a help to the visually impaired – if he can resolve one problem.

By Desmond Ng

While volunteering at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), Mr Kevin Chiam was puzzled by the numerous scars on the hands and arms of one of its members, Ms Rosie Wong.

When he saw that this was not uncommon among his other visually impaired friends, he decided to ask her why. Her answer started him on a journey that could yet make quite an impact on the blind community.

“It’s really because … when they’re cooking, just cutting a vegetable like a tomato (can injure them),” he related.

“I realised that cooking was one of the more challenging tasks (for them) … There’s this fear of getting cut, injured or scalded by hot water or hot surfaces.”

It was enough to motivate the then undergraduate to design a special set of kitchen utensils called Folks – including a knife, a chopping board and a stove ring – to protect the visually impaired from injuries when they prepare their meals.

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