Artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping our world at an astonishing pace. With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and make predictions, AI has immense potential to create products and technologies that enhance people’s lives and promote social equality.
In November 2022, Microsoft Canada and TECHNATION Canada partnered to launch the AI for Accessibility Emerging Tech Challenge, inviting post-secondary students across Canada to develop innovative ideas for using AI to create a more accessible world.
The challenge attracted students from diverse educational backgrounds, all eager to showcase their creativity and technical skills. These students used AI to develop a range of apps, software, and tools to assist people with various accessibility needs. The solutions they came up with were tailored to help individuals with hearing, vision, and physical impairments, as well as those with neurodiversity and learning differences.
During the challenge, teams were paired with professional mentors from Microsoft and TECHNATION. These mentors provided guidance and support to help the teams develop their concepts. The mentors also shared their own expertise in technology, accessibility, and business development, helping the students to think critically about the impact of their solutions.
The top teams were invited to the Microsoft Canadian Headquarters in Toronto to pitch their final concept to a panel of judges. The concepts were evaluated on a range of criteria, including originality, technical excellence, feasibility, and impact. The winning teams received cash prizes from TECHNATION and Microsoft Surface products courtesy of Microsoft Canada.
Third place: Canvas AEye (Marco Carreiro, Allison Randolph, Dylan Randolph)
Canvas AEye is a tool and software connection between Nvidia Canvas and eye-tracking technology, made to promote equal opportunities to create unique art using AI. This tool will turn a user’s brush strokes into images using eye-gaze and AI.
Second place: AmplifAI (Yeojun Han, Sean Tang, Iris Xu)
AmplifAI aims to solve communication difficulties caused by dysarthria by providing real-time speech augmentation and enhancement. This tool uses AI to correct pronunciations and clarify their words based on personalized speech patterns.
First place: WriteNow (Ethan Wu, Jeffrey Li, Alice Yang, Raymond Wang)
WriteNow transcribes live audio, batch converts stored files, and provides an editable notebook interface to revisit past conversations in audio-text format. Addressing accessibility touchpoints, it facilitates information access to all.
The AI for Accessibility Emerging Tech Challenge served as an opportunity for students across Canada to exhibit their skills and creativity at the intersection of AI and accessibility. By using technology to make the world a more inclusive place, these students are helping to build a better future for everyone. Congratulations to all the participants and winners of this exciting challenge!
Each year, TECHNATION facilitates multiple Emerging Tech Challenges for students by working with industry partners to develop relevant and innovative problem statements. To learn more about how your organization can partner with TECHNATION to host a challenge, see our partnership information package.
Students: looking to participate in our next challenge? Sign up for the Career Ready email list to stay in the know about our free student events and opportunities.