How Google I/O 2018 Showcased the Impact of Inclusive Technology

By Preeti Upadhyaya, Staff Writer | Product Inclusion

At I/O 2018, Google’s annual developer conference, keynote speakers shared how Google teams –and developers and designers using Google products and tools – are working to accelerate opportunities for more people around the world through technology. They’re doing so by designing and developing useful, accessible devices, software and tools that work for everyone. As John Maeda, creator of the Design in Tech report, discussed during his I/O Inspiration Session, when communities don’t have access to “computation,” they can experience exclusion. 

Here are three examples from I/O that illustrate how inclusive technologies promise to make a big impact in more people’s lives.

AI can help make advanced healthcare more accessible to more communities round the world

In India, within communities without ready access to state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, Google has been running field trials of technology that uses an artificial neural network that can detect signs of diabetic retinopathy by analyzing medical images of eyes. In the last year, this technology has been developed further, so that it can also  look at those same images and predict with a high degree of accuracy a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke. This technology could make it possible for more patients in India and many other parts of the world who may not have regular access to medical facilities to use such highly advanced health services. 

 AI can help augment how people with disabilities communicate

The I/O keynote featured software developer Tania Finlayson, who is unable to use a traditional keyboard and communicates via Morse Code by tapping her head on switches mounted on a device near her head, on her wheelchair.  She and her husband Ken developed a way to translate her head movements into Morse code. Ken and Tania (who received a standing ovation when they appeared live on the I/O stage)  teamed up with Google to integrate Morse code into the Gboard app. They used Google AI to drive predictions and suggestions. Their Morse Code feature was first made available as of May 8 (in beta), just as Tania and Ken took the stage.

Making machine learning easier to use can help developers make products for more people

To help more people around the world access machine learning and AI technology, Google unveiled ML Kit, a new software development kit that lets developers quickly integrate machine learning models for face detection, image labeling, and barcode scanning into their apps. ML Kit works across both Android and iOS, and developers have the ability to make the machine learning-fueled features available both offline and online. This can be helpful in areas of the world where access to stable Wi-Fi might not be reliable because of infrastructure challenges.


You can watch the I/O 2018 Keynotes here:

Photo credit: Google

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