Since the emergence of digital maps, travel has become easier and navigating has become more convenient. When driving, people can choose the quickest route with real time traffic information, getting you to your destination faster. If you take a subway or public bus, you can know your arrival time in advance with the help of technology.
However, even in the internet era with massive advances in technology, it is still difficult for some individuals with disabilities that effect mobility to go outside and take a walk. According to statistics released by the China Disabled Persons Federation in February 2020, there are 85 million people with a disability, amounting to the total population of Germany. Many seldom encounter individuals with disabilities in daily life because they often face various difficulties that prevent them from doing things alone.
Farewell to Isolation
Li, the founder of “Barrier-Free Map” which was developed for people with disabilities, is one of those 85 million people. Li’s life is a story of overcoming many obstacles as he struggled with his own physical disability.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy before his first birthday, Li had to live with the help of wheelchairs. With the encouragement of his family and his own determination, Li received a doctorate in artificial intelligence from Soochow University.
There is a Chinese saying that says “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” Li, who lived a busy life between school and home, had a dream of traveling ten thousand miles.
Looking at reality, Li became confused and worried about whether there is wheelchair access when traveling. For example, when people with disabilities that effect mobility go to transfer to another station on the subway, they are often uncertain of where the ramps are located.
Pursuit of Traveling
Over the years, Li has traveled to more than 20 countries around the world in his wheelchair. While traveling, Li experienced difficulties as a person with a disability. Since July 2019, Li and his team have been developing the “Barrier-Free Map,” covering three cities including Shanghai, Nanjing, and Suzhou. Li and his team marked over ten thousand areas that are handicap friendly including transportation junctions, tourism spots, business centers, office buildings, etc.
“Barrier-Free Map” aims to help people with disabilities that effect mobility travel more easily and provide the information needed to travel with fewer barriers. Through the WeChat mini program “Barrier-Free Travel,” people with disabilities that effect mobility could go out with the guidance of VR with real time barrier-free mode.
OnBotics, Li’s Suzhou-based intelligent technology company, helped optimize the product with the same values based on AI technologies such as deep learning and big data analysis. From July 2020, the team participated in the iFLYTEK AI public welfare campaign to gain free access to the AI capacities of object recognition, scene recognition, and voice recognition.
By integrating these capacities into the project, the OnBotics team successfully developed voice input search and better analysis of scenarios and facilities submitted by users.
AI for the People
There are many companies devoted to public welfare like OnBotics that provide products and solutions to help create a better life for people with disabilities.
An environment with barrier-free facilities helps people with disabilities that effect mobility move freely. According to the Barrier-Free Industry report, there are at least 300 million people in China in need of barrier-free facilities and 85 million of those are people with disabilities—almost 241 million are over 60 years of age. With the large number of people with disabilities and an aging society, a barrier-free industry in China will facilitate inclusive growth.
“Heart-warming public welfare, human-oriented technology.”
Based on advanced technology and our R&D capacity, iFLYTEK has consistently stuck to the original aspiration of AI public welfare to serve people with disabilities. iFLYTEK urges more developers to develop software and hardware for the public good and give more attention and care to groups facing greater inequality or hardship.