AI comes to the aid of visually impaired child

Melody and her kids Mati and Juju

Her Facebook profile reads; “Supermum, cookie that doesn’t crumble, clothed with strength and valor,” and it is absolutely true. 

Melody Gwanyambira, is the definition of courage. She is single handedly raising and caring for her children Mati and Juju who both have special needs. Juju who is now 6 years old started going blind when he was 2 years old while his older sister Mati (8) has cognitive development issues and problems with her eye-sight too.

“ I want my children to see the world,” Melody  who hopes to take her children to Disney World as soon as the COVID19 pandemic is under control said.

For a young woman barely 30 in a foreign country with no family support this can be emotionally and financially taxing but the young Zimbabwean journalist and content creator of the Women Football Around the World remains positive.

“It’s difficult but I thank God for giving me the strength I need everyday,” she said. 

She’s more than upbeat about the role of new technologies which no doubt play a huge role in their lives.

Juju is totally independent he uses Siri (a virtual assistant used by Apple Inc and is found on all of their gadgets). It enables users to get answers to questions, direction and also performs functions like calling emergency numbers and sending messages.

“It’s a great tool for the blind, for instance if he wants to go somewhere ask Siri for directions. The Iphone has so many functions for the blind, it makes them adapt easily.

“Juju also uses audio description on Disney plus Netflix, that way we don’t have to tell him everything in the cartoon.”

Juju a lively and active child who loves to communicate and play games with his cousins on zoom.

 At home, the family also benefits from the use of Alexa, an AI virtual technology developed by Amazon. It can control several smart devices using itself as a automation system.

Alexa and operate on a word command meaning it will deliver on your request once it hears the command word in this instance ‘Alexa’

In Melody’s home, Alexa helps her children to get around and to perform task such as switching on the lights for instance.

At school Juju however has a teacher assigned to him to help him get around but he is happy to find his own way using Siri.

Mati also has hyper mobility which makes it difficult for her to do some simple task like scratching herself or using the bathroom. Alexa is extremely practical for her as she can come her to switch the lights on and off.

However, there have been report that while these home digital assistants come in handy, they can also be spying on their users without their knowledge. According to an article published on the Consumer Watchdog website, these gadgets can be awake when the user thinks they are not as they are supposed to only react to ‘wake words’ before they start picking up sound and then collect  data of conversations and the screen patterns, monitoring habits and people’s preferences and this data will be used for related advertising.


 In Japan, robots are being used to take care of the elderly in nursing homes to fill in the gap left by a dwindling workforce.  

Here in France, at the AP-HM University Hospital in Marseille, Paro, a robot seal made in Japan is being used to reduce stress and anxiety among patients. The robot reacts to touch, sound and light.

The country has also developed a robot technology which helps in the operation of liver cancer.

In an effort to ease strain on patients, Panasonic has also made a robot bed that splits in half to a wheelchair. If this is not convenience wrapped up in AI then I don’t know what is.





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