IIT Delhi and Microsoft to host Empower 2019 on 14th – 17th October

  • The second edition of a one-of-a-kind conference to improve and make accessible assistive technology solutions for people with disabilities

New Delhi, October 10, 2019: In keeping with its commitment to empowering everyone to achieve more, Microsoft India, in partnership with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, will host the second edition of Empower from 14th to 17th October at I-TEC, IIT Delhi- Sonepat. This unique conference will bring together leading researchers, technologists and policy makers to discuss actionable steps in creating and making available assistive technologies and highlight the challenges in doing so. Stakeholders from entire ecosystem, Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will also participate in the conference.

Commenting on this, Prof. M. Balakrishnan, Founder of ASSISTECH and Professor, CSE Department, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, “We believe that integration of differently abled people should be an important goal for any society and for that providing them equal opportunities in mobility and education is critical. Using assistive technologies, we can help empower them to be a part of the societal progress. Through this conference, we aim to address the challenges faced by people with disabilities and bring together all researchers, industries, users and user organizations involved in the creation, production and dissemination of assistive technology solutions.Prof. Balakrishnan is the founder of the Assistech Lab at IIT Delhi.

Speaking on this, Dr. Manohar Swaminathan, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research (MSR) said, “At Microsoft Research India we have developed AI and ML technologies that can be deployed in low-resource environments. These include Embedded ML libraries which can enable the community of designers to leverage the power of AI and ML to enhance life of people with disabilities in India. We believe that the conference will provide a fertile ground for innovation by connecting such tools with designers of assistive technologies in confluence with people with disabilities who need such solutions.”

Empower focuses on reaching the communities with different abilities to focus on researchers and technologists presenting solutions and ideas to empower them. Over the four days, the conference will feature various sessions including workshops and seminars to discuss the depth and breadth of disability and assistive technologies. The event will also include a keynote session “Empowering for Inclusion” by Dr. Sriram Rajamani, distinguished scientist and Managing Director, Microsoft Research India on empowering billions with technology and the efforts by Microsoft in leveraging technology for inclusion. It will also showcase key assistive technology solutions like the spatial audio toolkit for immersive exploration of games and virtual environments. Other key solutions from Microsoft include CodeTalk (developed by MSR) to enhance programmer productivity and GesturePod, an interaction device for people using whitecanes, built using powerful Embedded Machine Learning Libraries. These resources are freely available to developers of assistive technologies.

IIT Delhi and Assistive Technology

ASSISTECH, an Assistive Technology laboratory with a focus on development of affordable solutions for mobility and education of the visually impaired was founded nearly ten years ago. The laboratory has been successful in developing many solutions that have reached the end users. SmartCaneTM is today used by more than 70,000 blind people in India and 22 other countries. Raised Lines Foundation, incubated in the lab is today producing tactile books for hundreds of blind children who want to pursue STEM education. Devices and solutions from the laboratory include DotBookTM – the first Indian Braille laptop and OnBoardTM a device that can help blind people to board public buses independently.

Visit http://assistech.iitd.ernet.in for details

Microsoft and AI for Accessibility

Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility is a 5 year, USD25 million program that harnesses the power of AI to amplify human capability for the more than 1 billion people around the world with a disability. AI is now capable of seeing, hearing, and reasoning with increasing accuracy. Real time speech-to-text transcription, computer vision capabilities, and predictive text functionality are just a few examples of how AI is useful to people with disabilities today. AI for Accessibility aims to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions that build on recent advancements in Microsoft Cognitive Services to help developers create intelligent apps that see, hear, understand and better interpret people’s needs.

Please find more information to Microsoft’s approach to accessibility on Microsoft Accessibility Website and see Microsoft India’s video on Empowering for Inclusion.

About IIT-Delhi

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is one of the 23 IITs created to be National Centres of Excellence for training, research and development in science, engineering and technology in India. Established as College of Engineering in 1961, the Institute was later declared as an Institution of National Importance under the “Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 1963” and was renamed as “Indian Institute of Technology Delhi’. Since its inception, over 50,000 students have graduated from IIT Delhi, of which more than 3500 are with a Ph.D. degree, in various disciplines including Engineering, Physical Sciences, Management and Humanities & Social Sciences. In 2018, IIT Delhi also received the special status of Institution of Eminence (IoE) by the Govt. of India, giving it greater autonomy in various matters including hiring of foreign faculty and starting collaborations with foreign institutions.

For more information, please visit: http://www.iitd.ac.in/

About Microsoft India

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @Microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft set up its India operations in 1990. Today, Microsoft entities in India have over 9,000 employees, engaged in sales and marketing, research and development and customer services and support, across 11 Indian cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Microsoft offers its global cloud services from local datacenters to accelerate digital transformation across Indian start-ups, businesses, and government agencies. In 2016, Microsoft opened one of its eight Cyber Security Engagement Centers in the country, to address security needs of both public and private sectors.

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