"[T]he current capabilities of many AI systems closely match some of the specialized needs of disabled people.... Fortunately, there is a growing interest in applying the scientific knowledge and engineering experience developed by AI researchers to the domain of assistive technology and in investigating new methods and techniques that are required within the assistive technology domain."
– Bruce G. Buchanan; from his Foreword to Assistive Technology and Artificial Intelligence: Applications in Robotics, User Interfaces and Natural Language Processing
Through coordination of the patient's prosthetic limb, existing nerves, and muscle grafts, amputees would be able to sense where their limbs are in space and to feel how much force is being applied to them. For example, when you bend your elbow, the biceps muscle contracts, causing the triceps to stretch, and that triceps stretch sends sensory information related to position, velocity, and force back to the brain. Without these intact muscle pairs, persons with limb amputation have no way of sensing where their artificial limbs are, nor can they sense the forces applied to those limbs. When the brain sends signals instructing a limb to move, one of the grafted muscles will contract, and its agonist will extend.
Chinese tech giant Baidu's text-to-speech system, Deep Voice, is making a lot of progress toward sounding more human. Baidu says that unlike previous text-to-speech systems, Deep Voice 2 finds shared qualities between the training voices entirely on its own, and without any previous guidance. "Deep voice 2 can learn from hundreds of voices and imitate them perfectly," a blog post says. In a research paper (PDF), Baidu concludes that its neural network can create voice pretty effectively even from small voice samples from hundreds of different speakers.
TL;DR Baidu's TTS system now supports multi-speaker conditioning, and can learn new speakers with very little data (a la LyreBird). I'm really excited about the recent influx of neural-net TTS systems, but all of the them seem to be too slow for real time dialog, or not publicly available, or both. Hoping that one of them gets a high quality open-source implementation soon!
Derrick Campana kneels beside Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse who wears a prosthetic leg made by Campana. Campana made the jump to the animal field 12 years ago when few, if any, people created artificial limbs for dogs and other pets. Derrick Campana holds the prosthetic paw he made for Kenna, a three year-old golden retriever born without a front paw. Derrick Campana holds the molds for prosthetic legs he made for two Thai elephants who lost limbs in landmine explosions.
Not many athletes compete in mind-controlled computer games. And the teams' "pilots" will be disabled people who will compete in one of six events that utilize exoskeletons, brain-wave controllers, prosthetic arms and legs, powered wheelchairs and muscle-stimulation bikes. And for the users of powered prosthetic arms, the tasks will be as common as opening a bottle and carrying a box. Cybathlon organizers hope this helps drive research on these assistive technologies forward--the same way NASCAR and Formula One races have led to advances in automotive technology.
But there might come a time when a robot could dupe you into thinking that you're speaking with a real person, thanks to a new AI called WaveNet developed by Google's DeepMind team. Currently, developers use one of two methods to create speech programs. In order to build a speech program that actually sounds human, the team fed the neural network raw audio waveforms recorded from real human speakers. As such, WaveNet speaks by forming individual sound waves.
To design the prosthetic Ferrell and a group of volunteers took measurements of Katelyn's arms, and used a design provided on the internet from the e-NABLE community, a global network of volunteers. Ferrell told The Huffington Post that the designs for Katelyn's prosthetic are publicly available, already tested and have been adopted by many users around the world. "[The prosthetic we built] is generally recognized as a beneficial alternative to more expensive professional prosthetics," Ferrell told HuffPost. The hand device that Ferrell and his team made is pink and purple, Katelyn's favorite colors, and includes fingers and a thumb that allow Katelyn to grasp objects.