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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Philippines among APAC winners of Microsoft's AI for Accessibility Hackathon to accelerate inclusive innovation


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Teams from Thailand, Singapore and Philippines are winners of the Microsoft AI for Accessibility (AI4A) Hackathon in APAC. In its third year, the AI4A Hackathon features teams who are deeply committed to solving real-world challenges faced by people with disabilities (PwD). The hackathon acts as a springboard for creators and developers to launch their applications, with cash prizes, access to Microsoft Technical experts to co-build their solutions on Microsoft Azure and continued mentoring support to build out their solution.

Drawing on real-life challenges faced by PwDs, 14 non-profit organizations (NPOs) shared problem statements that the 75 teams in the AI4A Hackathon used to build innovative solutions around the themes of transport, wearable devices and language tools.



Team Asclepius from Thailand, Team SWIFT Responders from Singapore and Team EIA from Philippines created solutions to bridge the disability divide, which include building an AI-enabled communication aid for people who are deaf, a smart system that allows people with physical disabilities to live independently, as well as inclusive banking for people who are blind.

In addition to these winners, two additional teams from Indonesia (Arabic Braille Converter) and Singapore (MeetMeHear) will receive coaching by Microsoft and its partners, including access to cloud architects, business consultation guidance to develop their solution, from a proof-of-concept to an application hosted on Microsoft Azure.


“We are inspired to see the continued enthusiasm of submissions this year for the hackathon to improve the lives of PwDs and congratulate the winners who so passionately brought their solutions to fruition,” said Pratima Amonkar, Chair for D&I and Accessibility for Microsoft Asia Pacific. “The month of May will be an important time for us to see the tremendous possibility of the contribution of PwDs as we roll out exciting awareness, training and mentorship programs with our customers, partners and wider community across the region.”

 

With more than 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, and 650 million in Asia, Microsoft believes that accessibility is essential to delivering on our mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Accessibility is the vehicle to enable inclusion of people with disabilities. To highlight how technology can unlock solutions that empower people with disabilities and enable transformative change within communities in APAC, Microsoft has dedicated the month of May in 2022 to Accessibility Awareness Month, with a series of workshops, trainings and events as well as awarding and celebrating winners of the AI for Accessibility Hackathon winners.

 


Thailand: Team Asclepius

To help people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Team Asclepius from Thailand, developed a sign-to-text application that uses AI deep learning models to capture movement sequences and body postures that predicts alphabets, words and numbers based on American Sign Language. This group of passionate high school students from Thailand have ambitious plans to include other commonly used sign languages such as British and French Sign Language and enhance it for wider tech applications such as live web events.

 

Singapore: Team SWIFT Responders

From Singapore, Team SWIFT Responders designed an AI-enabled solution that supports the independent living of adult persons with muscular dystrophy who use motorized wheelchairs for mobility. The Support Wheelchair-user Independence Fall Tracker (SWIFT) smart system that they have developed renders immediate assistance to a wheelchair user who falls off-balance from their functional position. This inspires confidence for wheelchair users, and assures their caretakers, that they can live independently and engage in meaningful activity as their safety is assured.

 

Philippines: Team EIA

To build a more inclusive banking experience for the blind and the elderly, Team EIA from the Philippines developed an Accessibility and Vision Assistant (AVA), powered by AI and machine learning, that works as a smart financial assistant and mobile wallet for the blind and elderly that makes digital banking accessible and clear. This drives financial inclusion for these groups of people and enables them to access payments and banking services quickly and securely.

 

Two additional outstanding teams have won coaching by Microsoft and its partners to bring their projects into fully running applications hosted on Microsoft Azure:

 

1.     Arabic Braille Converter (Indonesia): an app that could scan and convert Arabic text or graphics into Indonesian Braille format which can be read by screen readers or braille displays. It also has the function to back-translate from Arabic Braille into Arabic text.

 

2.     MeetMeHear (Singapore): an app to assist the deaf and hard-of-hearing to better communicate with others during physical meetings, through the use of AI for speech recognition to provide more accurate live captions.

 

Problem Statements from Non-Profit Organizations

NPOs across the region contributed to the hackathon through problem statements, based on real experiences faced by PwD. Some of the problem statements shared include:

·        How can AI provide wearable devices that will help persons with visual impairment traverse the streets independently and safely?

·        How can AI provide accessibility for online applicant assessment tools such as language assessments, verbal reasoning tests, and abstract reasoning tests?

·        How might we automatically create closed captions for offline use to help the deaf and hard of hearing community?

 

The NPOs represent a variety of organizations committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities in Asia Pacific.

Korea – Korea Differently Abled Federation

Malaysia – Malaysia Pan-Disability Football Club

Philippines – AHA! Learning Center

Philippines – Atriev

Philippines – Project Inclusion

Philippines – Virtualahan

Singapore – SG Enable

Sri Lanka – MJF Charitable Foundation

Thailand – Tab Foundation

Thailand – The Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities

United Nations Development Program

Vietnam – Disability Research and Capacity Development


Best Internet Modems for Your Home


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Nowadays, there are plenty of internet connections available in the market including fiber and DSL networks. With it comes to buying an internet connection, users usually go for a service that is fast in speed and economical in price. Therefore, we recommend cable-based internet service, which is incredibly fast, stable as well as reliable. However, it is not just the connection or the provider that delivers the speed. The equipment you install for establishing the connection is equally important, therefore, in this article, we will enlighten you about the best internet modems that you can use to maximize the speed of your service.

When it comes to the equipment, the internet modem is the most important device that determines the speed of your internet. There are two ways to acquire a modem for your connection. You can either buy the modem or rent one from your provider. Many service providers offer packages that come with all the equipment required to activate the service. For instance, Spectrum Internet offers a free internet modem along with all of its high-speed internet plans. In case you are looking to purchase your own modem, here are some of the best performing options in the market:

1.    Netgear CM-500

Download Speed: 686 Mbps

Upload Speed: 132 Mbps

Channels: 16 Down, 4 Up

Warranty: 1 Year

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity,  Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Solid Performance

J Good Compatibility

L Only One-Year Warranty

L Difficult Indication Lights

Netgear CM500 is one of the best modems available on the market. It is easy to find the one that works with most of the cable service providers in the industry. This modem is quite affordable and generally has good reviews on Amazon.

2.    Arris Surfboard SB-6183

Download Speed: 686 Mbps

Upload Speed: 131 Mbps

Channels: 16 Down, 4 Up

Warranty: 2 Years

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Solid Performance with Dependability

J Good Compatibility

J Visible Indication Lights

L Poor Placement of Coaxial Cable

Arris Surfboard SB-6183 is by far the first choice of most users because of its top-notch performance and high compatibility with most providers. In addition to this, the modem comes with a two-year warranty, which is quite hard to find on internet equipment these days.

3.    Netgear CM-600

Download Speed: 960 Mbps

Upload Speed: 240 Mbps

Channels: 24 Down, 8 Up

Warranty: 1 Year

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Solid and Reliable Performance

J Affordable Price

L Only One-Year Warranty

L Tall and Large Footprint

Netgear CM-600 is ideal for users who are looking for internet speeds of more than 300 Mbps. With no latency issues, this modem comes with upgraded firmware that enables it to take the performance aspect to another level. Although the modem is tall, it does have a futuristic appearance. 

4.    TP-Link TC 7610

Download Speed: 343 Mbps

Upload Speed: 143 Mbps

Channels: 8 Down, 4 Up

Warranty: 2 Years

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Reliable Performance

J Affordable Price

L Not Compatible with High-Speed Internet

L Difficult Status Lights

TP-Link TC 7610 is perfect for households that do not require high-speed internet service. This modem comes at an economical price and works reliably with most providers, delivering speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Plus, it comes with a two-year warranty, which is another great rough user.

5.    Arris Surfboard SB-6141

Download Speed: 343 Mbps

Upload Speed: 141 Mbps

Channels: 8 Down, 4 Up

Warranty: 2 Years

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Attractive Design 

J Economical Cost

J Two-Year Warranty 

L Does Not Support High-Speed Internet

Featuring one of the best modem designs, Arris Surfboard SB-6141 is quite a dependable modem that supports internet plans going up to 100 Mbps. For most households, this modem works exceptionally well as they are looking for reasonably priced equipment with great compatibility.

6.    Linksys CM-3008

Download Speed: 343 Mbps

Upload Speed: 120 Mbps

Channels: 8 Down, 4 Up

Warranty: 1 Year

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Easy Setup  

J Reliable Performance

J Economical Price 

L Does Not Support High-Speed Internet

CM-3008 is another modem that works well in households that do not require high-speed internet connectivity. With a plain design, Linksys CM-3008 provides great functionality to users who do not want to spend much but are looking for all the features in their equipment.

7.    Arris Surfboard SB-6910

Download Speed: 1400 Mbps

Upload Speed: 262 Mbps

Channels: 32 Down, 8 Up

Warranty: 2 Years

Top Compatible Cable Providers: Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications

J Smart Design 

J Two-Year Warranty 

L Latency Issues

L Expensive

Supporting some of the fastest internet plans, Arris Surfboard SB-6910 performs exceptionally well delivering great bandwidth to backup all your online activities. However, since the modem comes with Puma 6 chipset, users have experienced some latency issues that can be resolved by updating the firmware. Apart from that, there are no performance problems in this modem.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we have mentioned some of the best internet modes in the market. Make sure that you check the compatibility with your service provider before purchasing the modem. You can contact the customer service department of your internet service provider to find out about the compatibility requirements of a modem with your internet connection.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SMDC: Building places Filipinos can call home


Wazzup Pilipinas!?


A home, to which one can call their own, is one of the most fundamental human needs for survival. In building one’s family, buying housing or investing in property is often a crucial discussion that takes into consideration price, location, amenities and even the environment as these all impact the way people and families live and grow and how communities thrive in the long-run.

Recently, the many changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Filipinos to reassess the way they live, work and reside. The topic on home ownership and residential space has only become much more prominent as its impact towards one’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing was emphasized when companies shifted to work-from-home setups and schools introduced blended learning. It has become likely that up and coming homeowners are looking for new and affordable housing that responds to the new realities of school and work, as well as a healthier and more self-sufficient lifestyle.




For leading real estate developer SM Development Corporation (SMDC), the residential arm of SM Prime Holdings, satisfying personal needs and meeting basic survival for the homeowners of today can be done through meaningful and strategic planning and property development.

Over the years, SMDC has been continuously redefining residential spaces to bring accessibility, convenience, function, style and sustainability in the face of evolving trends and lifestyle changes—assuring prospective buyers of the great value that SMDC properties offer.

This means presenting a range of residences located in prime urban and suburban communities, conveniently situated near major road networks and transportation hubs, and designed to reflect SM’s commitment to luxurious urban living. SMDC properties bring commercial retail shops, entertainment venues, banks and leisure facilities closer to residents against a backdrop of lush and walkable spaces. Such open spaces encourage homeowners to dwell outside and take a break from the isolation that has become a norm lately, and allow residents to safely interact with their neighbors. These spaces also provide amenities that promote a healthy lifestyle among the residents.

Across the available properties, prospect homeowners are able to choose their housing type to fit their own or their family’s needs and functions with units ranging from studio rooms to deluxe two-bedroom suites. On top of being able to customize their living spaces, state-of-the-art facilities such as 24-hour security and CCTV system, fire alarm system, numerous WIFI-ready zones and standby generator set ensures continuous function and prime livability.

However, SMDC’s promise not only pertains to providing a greater quality of life, but to also have its communities take an integral role in their commitment towards sustainability. SMDC aims to promote many green living practices by designing walkable and transport-friendly developments, introducing energy-saving and eco-friendly green buildings and encouraging effective waste management programs among residents. For the property developer, homes are seen as a legacy for future generations and should be built for sustainability and for ease in future modification.

With developments still ongoing and more projects in the pipeline, SMDC allows homebuyers the opportunity to have the home of their choice. Through its affordable investment and flexible payment options, new families or young millennials will be able to live independently in communities that cater to their specific needs.

With its ability to empathize and understand current housing needs while having the foresight to address evolving requirements, SMDC continues to create sustainable and resilient living spaces for Filipinos to call their own.

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