Google Pledges £14m To Support Disability Technology

perkins blind

Smart glasses for the blind and prosthetic limb makers among winners of Google Impact Challenge investment

Google has revealed the winners of a campaign to use technology to help people with disabilities as part of a drive to help the one billion people worldwide.

The 29 successful companies will split a $20m (£14m) fund from the company charity organisation between them to invest in projects ranging from advanced prosthetic limbs to powered wheelchairs and interactive keyboards.

The winners, which come from around the world, include British organisations such as the Royal National Institute for Blind People, which has developed new smart glasses that are able to turn low vision situations into easy-to-recognise shapes and silhouettes.

Worldwide said it decided upon its winners based on several criteria, which looked for, “forward-thinking big ideas that use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities”.

POWER CHAIRThe company received over a thousand applicants from 88 countries, with other entrants including The Center for Discovery, which received $1.25 million (£880,000) to develop an open-source add-on that turns any manual wheelchair into a power chair.

Also recognised is the Perkins School for the Blind, which has created a detailed GPS system for people with sight issues that can crowdsource data from people with sight to help people navigate.

Overall, the winners receive an average of around $750,000 (£528,000), with six of the grant winners getting more than $1 million (£700,000).

“From employment to education, communication to mobility, each of our grantees is pushing innovation for people with disabilities forward,” said Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, project lead on the Google Impact Challenge.

“In addition to these grants, we’re always working to make our own technology more accessible, and yesterday we shared some of the latest on this front, including voice typing in Google Docs and a new tool that helps Android developers build more accessible apps. With all these efforts, our aim to create a world that works for everyone.”

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