In what can be touted as a significant move in building better technology for people with disabilities, Microsoft in its recent announcement has unveiled that it will be launching an initiative worth USD 25 million to accelerate developments of AI-based solutions that will assist over a billion people with disabilities.
Sources familiar with the matter revealed that the 5-year program will put Artificial Intelligence based technology and tools in the hands of developers, non-governmental organizations, and universities taking an AI-first approach. The company, moreover, will also identify projects with high potential and make greater investments of technology to help bring them to scale.
Microsoft said that by making AI-powered solutions more widely available, the company believes that the technology can have a significant impact on this important community.
Sources reveal that AI advancements will offer remarkable potential for people with cognitive, learning, hearing, vision, mental health conditions, and mobility disabilities to perform better in the three scenarios including modern life, employment, and human connection.
Brad Smith, President, Microsoft, affirmed that the company hopes to empower people with assistive technologies and products by accelerating the AI developments in turn providing the company with extensive future opportunities.
The Microsoft President also acknowledged the fact that other industry bigshots including Google and Apple have been working on accessibility. He further added that the entire idea is to encourage more start-ups to build assisting tools for disabled people, in turn accomplishing good social ethics and larger market potential.
According to reports, Microsoft is putting in efforts to work on stringer solutions such as predictive text functionality, visual recognition services, and real-time speech-to-text transcription.
Industry experts speculate that the growing focus on building assistive technologies could significantly help counter the ethical concerns over Artificial Intelligence and other advanced technologies.