AI helps the blind to 'see' their surroundings

01st August 2017
AI helps the blind to 'see' their surroundings
DRISHTI tool warns visually challenged Umesh Deshpande before he walks into a glass wall

Accenture engineers in India harness Artificial Intelligence to craft a  tool called DRISHTI for the visually challenged to experience and navigate  more of the world around them
Bangalore, August 1 2017: India-based engineers of global software services provider, Accenture, have developed a solution to help the visually challenged  sharply improve their perception of the world   around them. It is called DRISHTI, 'vision' in Sanskrit and also an acronym for  Disambiguating Real Time Insights for Supporting Humans with Intelligence.  Part of its Tech4Good focus, Accenture   harnessed Artificial Intelligence and partnered with the National Association for the Blind to  create the tool.  It uses a mobile phone and its camera  to  perform image recognition  and natural language processing to   describe the environment  around a visually impaired person, in a spoken commentary. It can also be used to identify and narrate text from books and documents, including currency notes, and identify obstructions like glass doors to improve the safety of the user.  
Umesh Deshpande,   Assistant Director, National Association for the Blind   and himself visually challenged, says the tool has come as a great boon to identify Indian currency notes since demonetization sense the higher value notes are no longer larger.  He demonstrated a pair of smart spectacles in which the  camera is embedded -- making it even easier to harness DRISHTI.
After the tool was  developed, it was extensively tested by 10  subjects in   and is also being used abroad: it is  being piloted at Accenture in South Africa, and a Spanish language version is being tested with Accenture employees in Argentina.
Says Pallavi Kadam, Executive Director, National Association for the Blind in India: “This project makes us excited for a not-too-distant future where the widespread use of technologies such as this will have a significant and positive impact on the blind community.”
Adds  Sanjay Podder,  Managing Director of Accenture Labs  in Bangalore,  who leads the Tech4Good initiative: “Drishti is a powerful example of how advanced and emerging technologies can be used for good to address complex human challenges. This project resulted from an opportunity we saw to build a more inclusive workplace for our visually impaired colleagues."
Watch a YouTube video on how Drishti works at our Tech Video spot on the home page for a few days -- or later here