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Accenture, Grameen Foundation’s apps to boost women’s financial inclusion

Accenture Labs in collaboration with the non-profit Grameen Foundation has developed two artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR)-based applications that can boost rural women's access to financial services

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Accenture releases app to empower women. IANS
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Accenture Labs in collaboration with the non-profit Grameen Foundation has developed two artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR)-based applications that can boost rural women’s access to financial services.

The apps — Emotional Analytics for Social Enterprises (EASE) and Grameen Guru — will be rolled out by Grameen Foundation India across 300 villages in the states of Maharashtra and Odisha, Accenture Labs said in a statement on Wednesday.

Leveraging AI and AR-based technologies, the applications will help users better understand financial products and services, enabling them to make informed choices that positively impact their financial and social well-being.

mobile apps that all women should have
This app will empower rural women. Wikimedia Commons

“This is a tremendous example of how technology can help bridge the vast cultural and educational divide in places like India, having a real impact on the way people work and live,” said Sanjay Podder, Managing Director, Accenture Labs India.

EASE is an AI-based web and mobile app that helps microfinance advisors gain real-time insights into the emotional and cognitive status of their clients, based on video and audio inputs.

Helping to improve cross-cultural communication, the tool provides deeper insights on precisely what topics or keywords attract attention, or cause clients to disengage. On the other hand, Grameen Guru is a smartphone-based multilingual chatbot that leverages AR technology to help clients who cannot read and understand written material.

Also Read: Twitter allows third-party apps for account verification

Using the app, a user can hold their phone over a brochure that details available financing options, for example, and the Guru virtual assistant will pop up and prompt a conversation in the local language to explain the material.

“Barriers — ranging from illiteracy to a lack of bank branches in rural areas, coupled with a lack of confidence and access to information — hinder adoption for millions of low-income women in India,” said Prabhat Labh, CEO, Grameen Foundation India. The use of these new technologies will enable effective economic empowerment of women, he noted. IANS

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Thanks To Artificial Intelligence, Radio Journalist Regains His Voice

The AI system slices each word read out by an individual into 100 tiny pieces

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Thanks To Artificial Intelligence, Radio Journalist Regains His Voice
Thanks To Artificial Intelligence, Radio Journalist Regains His Voice, Pixabay

A US radio journalist who had lost his voice two years ago due to a rare neurological condition has regained the ability to speak, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), the media reported.

Jamie Dupree, 54, a political radio journalist with Cox Media Group, got a new voice that trained a neural network to predict how he would talk, using samples from his old voice recordings, the BBC reported.

With his new voice, Dupree can now write a script and then use a free text-to-speech software programme called Balabolka on his laptop to turn it into an audio recording.

If a word or turn of phrase does not sound quite right in the recording, he can slow certain consonants or vowels down, or swap a word to one that does work, or change the pitch, and he can have a full radio story ready to go live in just seven minutes.

“This has saved my job and saved my family from a terrible financial unknown,” Dupree was quoted as saying to the BBC.

In 2016, Dupree was diagnosed with tongue protrusion dystonia — a rare neurological condition where the tongue pushes forward out of his mouth and his throat tightens whenever he wants to speak, making it impossible for him to say more than two or three words at a time.

artificial intelligence, brain
artificial intelligence, brain, Pixabay

Thanks to the new computer-generated voice, created for him by Scottish technology company CereProc, Dupree is set to come back on air, the report said.

The AI system slices each word read out by an individual into 100 tiny pieces, and does this with lots of common words until eventually it understands how basic phonetics work in that person’s voice and has an ordered sequence for all the pieces in each word.

Then, the neural network can create its own sounds and predict what the person would sound like if they were to say a series of words in conversation.

Also read: This Way China Can Help India In The Terms of Artificial Intelligence

“AI techniques work quite well on small constrained problems, and learning to model speech is something deep neural nets can do really well,” Chris Pidcock, CereProc’s chief technical officer and co-founder, told the BBC. (IANS)