Korean Digital New Deal Guides the Visually Impaired
Oct 22, 2021
SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Born2Global Centre released an article that highlights the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT)‘s Korean Digital New Deal. As part of the Korean government MSIT, Born2Global Centre has played a crucial role by connecting Korean startups with various opportunities worldwide.
At a bus stop, a visually impaired person takes a picture of an approaching vehicle on his mobile phone. The image is then transmitted to a mobile application, which gives him the car’s information in an instant. The application alerts him if the vehicle is a bus. The tool then displays details, like the bus number, in a zoomable image or by voice.
The mobile application, called Flowy, has helped lower barriers for the visually impaired by allowing them to easily identify a bus at their fingertips, instead of using a heavy, unwieldy magnifying device.
The Korean visual aids developer OVERFLOW designed Flowy, which is powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Upon receiving a vehicle image taken by a user, the application instantly analyzes the object with AI algorithms and sends the data, such as the bus number, back to the user who can magnify the image. The technology is quick to identify the exact type and number of a bus, rain or shine, day or night, from any angle, the company said.
Since its release, the Flowy application has garnered recognition for its novelty and innovation. It is a software solution designed for the visually challenged, which distinguishes it from existing hardware devices.
A Solution Inspired by Firsthand Experiences
Nobody would be more passionate and desperate than OVERFLOW Executive Director Kim Tae-hong to work to improve mobility and accessibility for those with low vision.
Kim himself is visually impaired. In childhood, he suffered from congenital cataract and glaucoma, which left him blind in the left eye with a low vision disability in the right. He said that in college years, a portable telescope, which he carried around everywhere, was often no use, since he always missed the bus. The idea of Flowy started from his firsthand experiences.
To develop the software, they first had to collect a large amount of data. The team took to the streets to take pictures of buses of different colors and types, both up close and at a distance, and from various angles. They then digitalized the images and processed the data with AI-powered technology.
However, the company faced challenges: tremendous costs involving research and development, which also requires lots of human resources. The firm was looking for a way to cover the required costs, when they learned about the so-called AI Voucher Project, part of the larger Korean Digital New Deal that the government launched last year.
Digital New Deal Beefs Up ‘Flowy’
Under the AI Voucher Project, the government issues vouchers to small and medium-sized and venture companies that need AI-powered products and services. Using the vouchers, the beneficiary companies can receive AI solutions from suppliers equipped with the technology.
Thanks to the AI Voucher Project, OVERFLOW was able to partner with a Korean tech company, named LIGHTVISION, which specializes in developing an AI video analysis software platform. With the help of the tech partner, the functionalities of the Flowy solution were significantly enhanced, for instance, with the addition of a voice service for the platform.
The enhanced solution has since been favorably received in the industry as “a product that minimizes financial burdens and maximize benefits for the visually impaired.” It is relatively easy to use and inexpensive to download the platform on a mobile phone, compared to the existing costly and cumbersome visual aid devices.
In May this year, OVERFLOW was also selected as an excellent example of “The Korean New Deal of The Month.” The government recognized the firm’s product Flowy for its innovative digital technology, as well as its contribution to improving the quality of life of the visually challenged.
“OVERFLOW’s technology is a testament that the Korean New Deal has started bringing changes to the socially disadvantaged.”
OVERFLOW plans to further advance its AI capabilities and expand services to identify other means of transportation and for use in an educational setting for the visually impaired.
“Had it not been for the government’s help with the AI Voucher Project, we wouldn’t have been able to develop Flowy into what it is now,” said the executive director of OVERFLOW. “We will continue to instill innovation into our products so every user can get access to them without having to worry about expenses.”
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SOURCE Born2Global Centre