(INDIA)

An international professional services company is harnessing artificial intelligence to provide visually impaired people with a better understanding of the world around them.

Accenture developed the smartphone powered audio assistant as part of its Tech4Good platform. The AI-powered system narrates what’s around the user via a smartphone. It identifies different items, the number and age of people, even indicating the mood of others in the vicinity.

Labelled Drishti, which means vision in Sanskrit, it was first tested on 10 of the company’s employees via a collaboration with the National Association for the Blind in India. It is also being trialled in South Africa, with a Spanish language version being used by staff in Argentina. Accenture also plans to provide the innovative solution to 100 plus visually impaired professionals in India.

Paul Daugherty, chief technology & innovation officer, Accenture, said: “Accenture believes diversity is a source of innovation, creativity and competitive advantage. This Tech4Good solution is a great illustration of how AI technology can empower humans by augmenting their capabilities so they can achieve more for themselves and the world around them. This work reflects our longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity, and our effort to create a ‘truly human’ environment where people can be who they are, and be their best, both professionally and personally.”

The company’s Tech4Good initiative is designed to tap into frontier tech to overcome challenging social problems.

“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 .By harnessing the rapid advancements in AI technology, we’ve demonstrated – through the pilot with the National Association for the Blind in India, as well as with Accenture’s own employees – the impact innovative solutions such as this can have on improving the way people live and work,” added Sanjay Podder, managing director of Accenture Labs in Bangalore, and Accenture Tech4Good lead.