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South Korea Telecom Develops AI-powered Braille Education

August 13, 2019

SK Telecom has completed the development of the smart braille educating system running on its Nugu voice-activated artificial intelligence (AI) speaker to help the visually impaired learn braille much more easily, the company said Monday.

The nation's top mobile carrier has cooperated with Ohfa Tech, a developer of the braille teaching device, Taptilo.

The telecom company will offer 110 devices to schools for the blind and households within the month and verify the effectiveness of the system in cooperation with Kangnam University.

The number of people who are visually impaired is estimated at about 300,000 in Korea, and 95 percent of these people are not able to read braille due to the shortage of specialist teachers, according to SK Telecom.

The development of the braille educating system utilizing the AI speaker is expected to lower barriers to education for the visually impaired through innovative technology, it said.

In the past, a teacher had to offer one-on-one tutoring to a blind person, resorting to verbal explanation and sense of touch. Due to the characteristics of the class, teaching more than one person at a time has been almost impossible.

As the new system enables the visually impaired to learn braille through the voice commands, they will be able to learn braille without the help of specialist teachers.

Users can simply input braille using the braille blocks of Taptilo and check words through the AI speaker. The two-way communication between the learner and the AI speaker is also possible ― when they say a word they want to know, the AI speaker converts it into braille.

SK Telecom added the system is comprised of curriculums to help the visually impaired learn braille at various levels.

"The development and supply of the smart braille educating system is a good model to improve access to information for a vulnerable social group and resolve social problems," said Yoo Woong-hwan who heads the SV Innovation Center of SK Telecom. "We will continue to cooperate with various interest groups to create social value."

The latest service is in line with SK Group's push to create more social value.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won has stressed that enterprises will be able to achieve stable growth in the rapidly changing business environment when they create not only economic value for shareholders and customers but also create social value for various interest groups.

Source: Korea Times