927 International Day of the Deaf, how technology Internet companies make people “heard”

Listening is the earliest connection between us and the world. Although 83% of the information obtained by humans comes from sight, hearing is the first perception that humans began to develop. Hearing is not as direct sensory stimulation as vision, but it can grab your attention faster.

If you are a person who often "surfes" on social platforms, then you have probably seen a similar video: a baby who was born deaf in the arms of his mother, with the help of a doctor, put on a hearing aid or switch on the cochlear implant, kids The silent world heard the sound for the first time. They panic and cry, but in the end they will look at their mother with a sincere smile.

This is the world of the hearing impaired. There is no sound, it is scary, but also full of hope. But what kind of voice do these hearing-impaired people hear?

The neglected "voice"

We once introduced the Internet life of blind people in the article "After going to massage for the blind N times, I saw their 3 times speed Internet life ". The 3 times speed voice playback and screen reading tool became the basis of life, and sound became theirs. Eyes, instead of them, "see" the larger world.

Compared with the blind, the world of the hearing impaired may not be so sad, because most of them have the option of hearing aids or cochlear implants. These two technologies can allow people who have lost hearing to hear again, even if they are not as clear as ordinary people, at least they can hear the sound.

But the number of hearing impaired people is far more than you think.

▲ Picture from: The New York Times

According to data from the World Health Organization, about 1.1 billion young people aged 12-35 are at risk of hearing loss globally, and about 360 million people suffer from hearing loss. According to the results of the second national sample survey of persons with disabilities, the number of people with hearing impairments in China is 27.8 million, ranking first among the five major types of disabled people in China, and it continues to increase with 20,000 to 30,000 new children every year.

Cochlear implants and hearing aids are their "prosthetic", but this "prosthetic" is not so conspicuous. Unlike crutches or wheelchairs, it can make you realize that the other person is a person in need. At the same time, it also makes them more difficult to understand and need help.

In order to better benefit the deaf in the world, defend the rights of the deaf, and help the deaf recover, the World Federation of the Deaf has set Sunday the fourth week of September as the International Day of the Deaf.

And this year’s International Day of the Deaf is September 27. On this day, Tencent Multimedia Lab, together with Tencent Charity Foundation, Shenzhen Information Accessibility Research Association, and other institutions held a press conference, announcing the launch of "Operation for the Deaf". Public welfare developers, equipment manufacturers, NGOs and the industry open Tencent Teana's AI audio technology for free to help the hearing impaired solve the problem of "inaudibility".

Spilled big company technology

Remind that the solution to the "inaudible" problem is of course not to make a cochlear implant by yourself, but a more businessly accurate word-technology empowerment. Tencent shares its audio processing technology with related manufacturers to help them use more advanced professional technology on cochlear implants.

During the epidemic, if you have used Tencent meetings, you may be able to better understand this real-time audio technology. In a Tencent meeting, as long as you turn on the audio noise reduction switch in the settings, you will find that your voice can be conveyed to the other party more accurately, and the noise is "filtered" by this technology.

▲ Audio noise reduction in Tencent meeting app

This filtering technology is also used in cochlear implants, and the hearing impaired can use the power of artificial intelligence to hear more clearly.

Regarding the sound heard by the hearing impaired after putting on the cochlear implant, Li Chu, general manager of Zhejiang Nuoerkang Neuroelectronic Technology (subsidiary of Morningstar Cochlear Implant System) Co., Ltd., introduced its specific work to Ai Faner.

There are about 150 million hair cells in the ear of a normal person, and the hair cells are connected to the auditory nerve. The sound of a normal human ear is transmitted to the middle ear, and the middle ear turns the sound signal into a vibration signal. When the vibration signal reaches the inner ear, it floats the lymph fluid inside. With this fluctuation, the hair cells generate bioelectricity to the auditory nerve. Then the auditory nerve is stimulated and transmitted to the brain to hear the sound, which is a normal sound channel.

In deaf patients, the hair cells are dead, so there is no way to convert vibration signals into electrical signals to the brain. What we are doing now is to implant an electrode inside the ear. At present, the world’s largest number of electrodes is 24. The cochlea is in the shape of a snail, with low frequencies on the top and high frequencies on the bottom. It is a piano keyboard when laid out. Normal people have 15,000 keyboards, and we (the hearing impaired) have 24, so The sound we (the hearing impaired) hear is very different from the sound heard by normal ears.

We think this can be improved through technology to make them hear more.

How to understand the "heard world" of the hearing impaired? You can think of a misty bathhouse or an indoor barbecue without a circulation system. Everything is smoky, you can't see clearly, you are not sure. This kind of sound that is blocked by a layer of cloth and cannot be determined is the "world" that the hearing impaired people hear.

In this session, although it is not a pioneering work from 0 to 1 to make the hearing impaired hear clearly and truly, it also means 0.5 to 0.8 for the hearing impaired.

Unfortunately, even if Tencent Multimedia Lab wants to put its most advanced algorithms into the cochlear implant, the limited computing resources of the cochlear implant cannot carry a machine learning model.

In this case, the researchers used mobile phones. Use the computing resources of the mobile phone to carry the model, collect and enhance the speech, improve the speech intelligibility and reachability by 40%, and finally make it "hear" by the hearing impaired.

When asked about the commercialization plan of the technology in cochlear implants, Tencent said:

The starting point of our entire project is always that we use the spillover technology to build products for public welfare , and there is no relevant business plan.

Technology is good, technology speaks

Since Ma Huateng, Liu Chiping and all members of the general office "user-oriented, technology for good" on Tencent's 21st anniversary, Tencent has taken more and more actions in public welfare.

Previously, Tencent Youtu Lab used deep learning technology to break through "cross-age face recognition" and helped the police find children who had been abducted for ten years. Let AI see what an 8-year-old kidnapped child might look like at the age of 18, and use this technology to help his family find relatives.

Qzone has launched an open project of "Accessible AI Technology", allowing more companies and developers to use OCR text recognition, speech synthesis, image-to-speech and other accessibility AI technologies to make more products that are beneficial to users. , So that the visually impaired and hearing impaired can also use it.

Facing technology and public welfare, Tang Daosheng, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent said :

Technology extends human abilities, and it can also make up for our physical deficiencies and break down "barriers" so that everyone can explore life and the world on an equal basis. This has also become the focus of many technology companies and social organizations, including Tencent.

The needs of special groups of people are diverse, and technological innovation in the barrier-free field is being valued by more and more industries and enterprises. Tencent hopes to give full play to its advantages in technological research and development, open its own capabilities, and contribute to the development of an information barrier-free society.

▲ Picture from: The New York Times

In northern California, smart people from all over the world gathered together to think about how people can find the information they need most in search engines, how to make people more willing to share their favorite content with friends, and how to make them omnipotent. Mobile phones break through imagination. In Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, countless laboratories and entrepreneurial teams are exploring the successful extension of the latest technology to new applications such as VR glasses, smart watches, and mobile payment, exploring a possible future for mankind.

When many smart people are rushing forward, some people choose to stop and use the latest technology in areas that are easily overlooked. Children who have been missing for many years do not have a wider audience for the sound recognition of cochlear implants and games, but they are indeed needed.

▲ The blind Internet users interviewed by Ai Faner are using the app to read the screen

Liang Zhenyu, the founder of Shenzhen Information Accessible Products Alliance, said that the existence of technology is not only to help the disabled and the disadvantaged.

The inevitable trend throughout China is to use the latest technology to solve social problems that have not been solved for thousands of years. I think Tencent’s vision of science and technology for good has begun to lead a trend and set a high benchmark. If technology companies have technological strength, they will use your technological strength to help disadvantaged groups.

Not too interesting, not too optimistic.

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