ImpacTech will provide expertise in AI and Machine Learning on aiD project to create solutions that help deaf people communicate in collaboration with Cyprus University of Technology

ImpacTech will provide expertise in AI and Machine Learning on aiD project to create solutions that help deaf people communicate in collaboration with Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), Georgia Tech and other partners

ImpacTech is very proud to announce that it will provide expertise in AI and machine learning (ML) for the ‘aRTIFICIAL iNTELLIGENCE for the Deaf’ (aiD) project which has been given funding of €1.7M by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The ground-breaking aiD project will use AI and other cutting-edge technology to create solutions that will enable deaf people to effectively communicate and interact with everyone. The long-term goal is for these solutions to catalyse their more active participation in life.

The aim is to achieve this by facilitating communication through translation from and to sign language (SL) via mobile devices. The project also aims to provide educational solutions for deaf children.

The aiD project will leverage ML and augmented reality (AR) technology. It will also use speech-to-text/text-to-speech algorithms. These algorithms now perform with high accuracy as a result of the latest breakthroughs in deep learning (DL).

ImpacTech will contribute to aiD through its strong research and development team that have developed leading solutions revolving around signal processing and natural language understanding.

The project will also draw on ImpacTech’s expertise in user requirement specification and offer access to state-of-the-art technical knowledge on ML principles. Additionally, aiD will have access to the ImpacTech data centre which comprises of world class hardware for DL.

The project brings together expertise from CUT, Georgia Tech, Anontec Infosystems Ltd, Ethniko kai Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon, HandsUp Agency IKE, Modus SA, Hellenic Federation of the Deaf, University of Kent, Hostdrop OÜ and European Union of the Deaf.

The €1.7M funding from Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest research and innovation programme, will be spread over the four years. 32 scientists will work on producing solutions that significantly reduce the social exclusion felt by people with hearing disability.

OVER 750,000 DEAF SIGN LANGUAGE USERS IN EUROPE WILL BENEFIT FROM PROJECT

According to the European Union of Deaf (EUD) there are only 12,000 interpreters for more than 750,000 deaf SL users.

This highlights the barriers that deaf and hard-of-hearing people face when trying to communicate with hearing people. Their disability restricts their opportunities for employment and access to proper education.

For example, in Greece and Spain more than 60% of deaf children have extremely limited reading and writing skills.

In 2017 the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the ‘Global cost of unaddressed hearing loss and cost-effectiveness of interventions’ research. It reveals that the annual global cost to the healthcare sector is between $67–107 billion. It also estimates that the annual cost of unaddressed hearing loss is in the range $750–790 billion globally.

Addressing the multifaceted challenge of enabling deaf people to effectively communicate, interact, and eventually participate in social life will bring about a major breakthrough to the lives of hundreds of thousands of European citizens.

Previous attempts to use technology to solve these problems for the deaf have been restricted to narrow use cases. In contrast, aiD is taking a holistic approach to the problem. The objective is to pursue innovation that enables seamless communication for deaf people in any real-world scenario.

Horizon 2020, who announced the decision to fund aiD on July 1, is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme. H2020 have nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). It is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

STRONG SUPPORT FROM THE OUTSET

Upon announcement of the €1.7M funding, Project coordinator Professor Soterios Chatzis thanked everyone who has been part of aiD. Chatzis has been pioneering the research of ML for the interpretation of sign language and conversion into text and language.

He also gave special mention to the Hellenic Federation of the Deaf and the European Union of the Deaf who have given their complete support for the project from its offset.

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