On Halloween 2016 Microsoft established a new venture aimed to use one scary technology, AI, to make life a lot easier for those who are less fortunate.
Project Tokyo’s mission is to deliver AI-enabled prototypes to help those with vision impairment to improve their social, physical and textual environmental awareness and provide more options to access information and increase their ability to navigate the world.
Project Tokyo brings Microsoft researchers from across the world together with academic research partners from the US, UK, China, Japan and India, to explore opportunities for technology advancement in this space and will involve people who are blind or have vision impairments from the start.
Some of the examples of AI helping those with perceptual problems is Cognitive Services Face API used in the Seeing AI research project to deliver facial recognition technology and The Cities Unlocked project which taps rich streams of geo-based data to accurately inform users of the proximity of landmarks and destinations via a 3D SoundScape experience.
Further development will include AI, machine learning, human-computer interaction, natural language processing, computer vision and related fields and could help those with visual impairment understand signage in airports (regardless of language), find an empty seat on the bus, or know that a familiar face is present and other useful every day tasks which would have a real impact on independence.
See a video that demonstrated the potential of the technology below:
Read more about the effort at Microsoft here.