Humans and AI
Meet passionate people from all walks of life who are putting AI into action to transform our world.
Dr. Simone Stumpf is a self-described people-watcher. What is she looking for? Ways to make their lives better using AI technology. Today, she applies her love of technology with her drive to help people by working on Project ORBIT: A new AI model that can change the lives of people who are blind or low vision by creating inclusive, personal image recognition.
Connecting storytelling and technology
I never expected to work in technology. I was born and raised in the Southwest of Germany where I spent most of my time reading books and writing stories. When I moved to London at 19, it was a gateway to a new life. I became fascinated by technology and went on to get my Ph.D. in computer science, with a focus on user experience and fair AI. Now, I use my storytelling ability to connect people to the technology they need.
Designing to make a difference
Technology should be designed for people, to improve lives and make us feel more connected to others. I always ask my students at City, University of London, “How could your life be different using AI?” It really sparks their creativity. Their ideas are inspiring and achievable. It’s extraordinary to think that you could have a positive impact on someone else’s life. That’s the difference I aim to achieve.
Helping the blind and low-vision community
The blind and low-vision community rely heavily on object recognition to help them explore their surroundings. There are many apps for assisting people with object and environment recognition, but their AI models are often trained on images from sighted users. This means these apps cannot detect objects specific to people with blindness and low vision – whether that be their favorite coffee cup or a white cane. I’m now working on making object recognition more personal.
Project ORBIT: Recognizing personal objects
The goal of Project ORBIT (Object Recognition for Blind Image Training) is to improve the independence of people who are blind or low vision using personal object recognition. We have people take short videos of their personal objects. Even when videos are blurry or off center, we can use this data to train AI to recognize objects accurately in just 5-10 frames. We hope to integrate this into an app that anyone can download and use.
It's important to me that my work includes everyone. We should all have the same opportunities and be included in life in the same way. I like making a difference in people’s lives and I want to make sure that equity is at the heart of how I design and develop technology. Project ORBIT is a critical step in including people who are blind and low vision in the data that improves their access to the world.