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- Sonipat. 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 focusses 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.