Microsoft India develops technology for blind and deaf people

Asia-Pacific, May 21 2012

HYDERABAD: Microsoft India employees have developed a technology that would help for people who are deaf to communicate with others.

Microsoft logoThe employees have also developed a device for people who are blind that helps them navigate their way to destination safely through objects in an indoor space.

A team of employees of the company, led by Bangaru Venkatesh, said ‘Kinect Bridge’ technology, developed for people with hearing disabilities, will recognize simple finger or spelling as input and convert the symbol into text or speech.

The technology was developed using Kinect device that detects objects without touching. It is used by Microsoft for gaming.

“Hand gestures will be recognized by the device and will be converted as text or voice. This is useful for visually impaired people also. They can just speak to the computer and it will be converted into text,” Venkatesh told visiting reporters at the Garage Science Fair, an initiative that allows Microsoft’s own employees to get started on their innovative ideas, and launch their side projects.

“This is the first step. Commercializing will be taken up by Microsoft. This is an application developed by them (employees). They can put it up for ‘moonlighting’. Microsoft has no liability on these applications,” Venkatesh added.

Besides, another team has developed – Kinectacles, an application that helps people who are blind to navigate on their own.

“Using a real-time scanning, the person is directed whether he should move further or not. A built-up voice will give suggestions to the person based on the distance between the blind person and object,” Rishabh Varma, an associate of Microsoft India who along with three of his colleagues developed Kinectacles application, said.

The intention is to help people who are blind to navigate on their own indoors without the help of other people. It has one normal VGA camera and one depth camera, he added.

Meanwhile, MSIT’s senior principal solution manager Matt Hempey said Garage science fair, taking place on the Microsoft campus, allows in-house inventors to brainstorm, code, test, build prototypes and showcase their grassroots innovation to senior leaders and hundreds of fellow Microsoft employees.

He said over 58 teams participated in the fair and many of the applications on display were aimed at solving real-world issues.


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