Google announced a bunch of new hardware and new software updates for products last night at its annual I/OI event in San Francisco. The search engine giant announced the Pixel 3a, The Nest Hub and upcoming Android Q features. Having said that, hardware products are refreshed each year and Google announced something more important than any average person would expect.
Google researched are working to train its already competent speech recognition system to understand people with speech impairments. It's a very basic thing nobody would have thought to explore via technology but Google is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve this feat. It's called Project Euphoria and we got to see a preview of what it can possibly do to help people with speech impairments.
Having a family member who suffers from multiple sclerosis, Project Euphoria evoked an emotion that not many people can comprehend. Google is currently working with people who have neurological conditions including ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis so that AI can better understand speech patterns. Even though it's in very early stages, we got to see how Project Euphoria can transcribe speech better to help people with speak impairment communicate.
There are various ways for people to communicate, for example, transcribing is just one of the ways for someone to communicate. People can even use a keyboard to type out a response or even send commands via Google Assistant without ever speaking. This can be fired up with just a button that connects to Google Assistant.
In order to improve speech recognition and prediction, Google is asking everyone from around the world to submit voice samples. This data will be used to improve algorithms that are used by the speech recognition software.
“Fundamental AI research which enables new products for people with disabilities is an important way we drive our mission forward,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai onstage. “This will ultimately result in products that work better for all of us. It's the perfect example of what we mean by building a more helpful Google for everyone.”Why Is Project Euphoria Important?
Well for the simple reason that it will make the world a more inclusive place. The ability for people suffering from speech impairment to communicate with family members, friends and other people with similar diseases has far more social implications than you can imagine. Disabled people will be able to communicate emotions like laughter, despair, happiness, and even anger that was not possible earlier. It will also benefit people with hearing impairments as they can simply read the transcribed text for communication. This in turn not only makes the lives of disabled people easier, making it more inclusive. It makes people with speech and hearing impairments get more familiar with emotions, feel less conscious about communicating in public and above all else, express feelings that disabled people couldn't do effectively before.
To know more about Google's efforts and Project Euphoria, you can watch a short video below that will give you a better idea.