Log in
E-mail
Password
Remember
Forgot password ?
Become a member for free
Sign up
Sign up
New member
Sign up for FREE
New customer
Discover our services
Settings
Settings
Dynamic quotes 
OFFON

MICROSOFT CORPORATION

(MSFT)
  Report
SummaryQuotesChartsNewsRatingsCalendarCompanyFinancialsConsensusRevisions 
SummaryMost relevantAll NewsAnalyst Reco.Other languagesPress ReleasesOfficial PublicationsSector newsMarketScreener Strategies

Microsoft : How AI is helping children with disabilities bridge language gaps

05/13/2019 | 01:38pm EDT

How did you learn to talk?

Probably something like this: Your infant brain, a hotbed of neurological activity, picked up on your parents' speech tones and facial expressions. You started to mimic their sounds, interpret their emotions and identify relatives from strangers. And one day, about a year into life, you pointed and started saying a few meaningful words with slobbery glee.

But many children, particularly those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, acquire language in different ways. Worldwide, one in 160 children is diagnosed with ASD. In the United States, it is one in 59 children - and approximately 40 percent of this group is non-verbal.

Learning from superheroes and puppies

Lois Jean Brady and Matthew Guggemos, co-founders of Bay Area-based iTherapy who are speech pathologists and autism specialists, are tackling the growing prevalence of autism-related speech challenges with InnerVoice, an artificial intelligence-powered app whose customizable avatars stimulate social cues. The app animates avatars of superheroes, puppies, stuffed animals and people to help young children who have difficulties with language and expression pair words with meanings and practice conversation.

iTherapy received a Microsoft AI for Accessibility grant in 2018. The program provides grants as well as technology and expertise to individuals, groups and companies passionate about creating tools that make the world more inclusive. iTherapy is using the grant to integrate the Azure AI platform to enhance its generated speech, image recognition and facial animation.

A five-year-old student using Zyrobotics to learn to read at Ranch Santa Gertrudes Elementary.

'I think for sure that the AI component was the missing link,' says Guggemos of the app. 'How do you use words, and what do words mean? What does a symbol represent? How do you use AI to develop problems that require language to solve?'

How a hippo helps teach speech

AI is also proving an exciting development in speech and language improvement for Zyrobotics, an Atlanta-based educational technology company that was the first beneficiary of the AI for Accessibility program in 2018. Zyrobotics is using Azure Machine Learning to help its ReadAble Storiez educational tool interpret when a student needs assistance.

ReadAble Storiez uses an avatar of a hippo to help students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and other challenges such as stuttering, pauses and heavy accents.

Ayanna Howard, the company's founder and professor in robotics, was first motivated to create ReadAble Storiez when watching a teacher use Zyrobotics' Counting Zoo app with a child. When the teacher turned to her and said, 'Can you have this app do more than just read with him? I think it's fantastic that it helps improve his math - could it also help him improve his reading?'

Howard also found teachers mentioning the challenges of dyslexia in the classroom. 'I was like, 'Oh, what happens if you have a reading disability?' I then learned that signs of dyslexia in children aren't picked up until much later, typically when schools start standardized testing. I realized we needed an intervention much earlier and that we could do that with Counting Zoo.'

Learning models that don't take individualized challenges into account, or don't address the speech patterns of kids, 'tend to fail,' Howard says. ReadAble Storiez employs a custom speech model and a sophisticated 'tutor' to convert speech to text and measure accuracy, fluency and the child's reading improvement.

'It blew my mind!'

Howard is pleased with the program's early success. 'While they were reading a book, kids were correcting themselves,' she says. 'As a technologist, you say your stuff works, but I'm sitting there with the kids and I'm blown away, 'It really does work!' It's thrilling to see that what works in the lab actually works in the real world, in the child's environment. The [avatar] would provide feedback, and a child would be like, 'I didn't say a word right. Can I try again?' It blew my mind. That was the affirmation. Our solution was on track and on target.'

Brady, who came up with the idea for InnerVoice after studying and writing a book on apps for people with autism, reflects on the impact it has made. She cites an example of working with a student who is non-verbal and used the app to communicate with an avatar of himself.

'He would take a picture of an apple, and an avatar would read it as 'apple,' and then he would write it down, 'apple.' Until then, I hadn't even thought of that strategy.'

A mother uses InnerVoice to work on communication skills with her young daughter.

Brady and Guggemos imagine the benefits of AI-assisted communication beyond their target audience. They are working with people with dementia, head injuries and strokes. 'Many communication apps just talk for you,' Brady adds. 'Ours spans many aspects of communication for everybody - even English-language learners. Why wouldn't I try that? It provides a model. There's a coffee cup on the table, take a picture of it. How do you say that?'

Howard dreams of Zyrobotics helping to close the gap between mainstream learners and students with learning disabilities. To start, this fall Zyrobotics will introduce ReadAble Storiez to classrooms in the Los Nietos, California, school district, where learning disabilities track high. The company will also apply AI to its suite of STEM Storiez, a series of nine interactive and inclusive books that help children ages 3 to 7 engage with science, math, engineering and technology.

The AI for Accessibility program has been instrumental in getting Zyrobotics off the ground with ReadAble Storiez. 'If we hadn't gotten the grant, we'd be in phase zero,' Howard says. 'We run on grants to ensure we provide access to learning technologies for all students. We need to be out there for kids that need us.'

The grant gave Brady and Guggemos the technology to take InnerVoice to the next level. 'Our kids need this technology,' Brady says. 'It's not a luxury. We want to keep adding the best stuff. Microsoft really propelled us forward in that arena.'

Top image: A young boy at the iTherapy clinic uses InnerVoice chat bot to describe his photo of a Teddy bear.

Related:

Disclaimer

Microsoft Corporation published this content on 13 May 2019 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 13 May 2019 17:37:02 UTC


© Publicnow 2019
All news about MICROSOFT CORPORATION
06/18Fed Statement 'Very Bullish' For Tech Stocks, Wedbush Says
MT
06/18MICROSOFT  : Recipients of academic grants for AI research on combating phishing..
PU
06/18RECAP OF JUNE 17 XBOX GAMES SHOWCASE : Extended
PU
06/18GLEDHOW INVESTMENTS PLC  : Holding in Company
DJ
06/18ACCENTURE  : and Avanade Named to the Leaders Category in Worldwide Microsoft Im..
AQ
06/18ETF PREVIEW : ETFs, Futures Mixed as Wall Street Continues to Mull Fed's Rate Hi..
MT
06/18MICROSOFT  : Surface gamechanger creating a community cleaning up the seas
PU
06/18TODAY ON WALL STREET : We’re not done with cyclicals yet
06/18ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS : American Express, HSBC, CyrusOne, Microsoft, Vodafone...
06/18MARKET CHATTER : Microsoft Planning Data Center Expansion in China
MT
More news
Financials (USD)
Sales 2021 166 B - -
Net income 2021 59 386 M - -
Net cash 2021 66 544 M - -
P/E ratio 2021 33,2x
Yield 2021 0,86%
Capitalization 1 954 B 1 954 B -
EV / Sales 2021 11,4x
EV / Sales 2022 10,0x
Nbr of Employees 163 000
Free-Float 99,9%
Chart MICROSOFT CORPORATION
Duration : Period :
Microsoft Corporation Technical Analysis Chart | MSFT | US5949181045 | MarketScreener
Technical analysis trends MICROSOFT CORPORATION
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
TrendsBullishBullishBullish
Income Statement Evolution
Consensus
Sell
Buy
Mean consensus BUY
Number of Analysts 42
Average target price 294,33 $
Last Close Price 259,43 $
Spread / Highest target 31,1%
Spread / Average Target 13,5%
Spread / Lowest Target -2,32%
EPS Revisions
Managers and Directors
NameTitle
Satya Nadella Chief Executive Officer & Non-Independent Director
Bradford L. Smith President & Chief Legal Officer
Amy E. Hood Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
John Wendell Thompson Independent Chairman
James Kevin Scott Chief Technology Officer & Executive VP
Sector and Competitors
1st jan.Capitalization (M$)
MICROSOFT CORPORATION17.30%1 953 916
SEA LIMITED41.92%148 147
ZOOM VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS, INC.10.95%110 268
ATLASSIAN CORPORATION PLC14.08%66 955
DASSAULT SYSTÈMES SE18.72%61 202
PALANTIR TECHNOLOGIES INC.7.73%47 613