Commentary

'Project Understood' Aims To Help Google Better Understand Those With Down Syndrome

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society and FCB Canada have launched a new initiative called “Project Understood.” The objective is to help improve voice-recognition models like “Hey Google,” which often don’t understand speech patterns of people with Down syndrome.

According to the agency, that’s because those with Down syndrome have different facial skeletal and muscular systems that current voice technology systems have a hard time understanding.

“Project Understand” wants to provide a solution by collecting voice data from adults with Down syndrome that can then be used to improve voice-recognition models.

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) worked with FCB Canada to create a campaign asking people with Down syndrome to “teach” Google. Participants who qualify will be able to help train Google’s voice by reading out hundreds of phrases.

The agency says that while people with Down syndrome are often associated with needing help, the campaign flips the stereotype around and turns them into the helpers.

Everybody likes to feel needed, right? And if voice recognition technology is improved at the same time, sounds like a win-win.

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