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Is disability tech delivering?

Why does tech not understand my speech?
Physicist Dr Claire Malone is facing a problem: no speech-to-text software understands her. She is living with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her movement and muscle coordination, including her speech. Claire shares how much of a difference this tech could make in her life, and Gareth speaks to Sara Smolley, the co-founder of Voiceitt, one of the leading companies in the area, about how close we are to having software that can understand people like Claire.

Listening glasses
Many people have reading glasses, but what about glasses that can hear? A new pair of augmented reality glasses can hear what other people say, transcribe it, and then displays the text on your glasses like real-life subtitles. How could this type of tech help people with hearing impairment? Gareth speaks to XRAI CEO Dan Scarfe, as well as Josh Feldman, who was born hard of hearing and usually relies on lip reading. Will the listening glasses work live on the show?

Who gets to use assistive tech?
Technological solutions for people with disabilities are hugely beneficial, but as a new report from WHO and UNICEF shows, many people in need never get to access them. Chapal Khasnabis, head of the Access to Assistive Technology and Medical Devices unit at WHO, tells Gareth just how big the global inequity of assistive tech, and what we can do to fix it.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.

Studio Manager: Bob Nettles
Producer: Florian Bohr

(Image: Wheelchair user using assistive technology credit: Getty Images)

Grassroots data – holding the powerful to account

Open source investigators
We live in an age where there is data on almost everything, and a large chunk of it is publicly available. You only need to know where to look. There are many investigators on the internet that are gathering Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT for short, and conduct research and verification, much of it focussed on war zones. The most prominent collective in this field is the NGO Bellingcat, but there is a whole ecosystem of amateur sleuths online. Gareth speaks to Charlotte Godart who leads the volunteer programme at Bellingcat, on how they effectively crowdsource part of their investigations, and we hear from several hobbyists who rose to prominence on Twitter about why they spent much of their free time on this type of research.

Data tackling gun violence
Brazil has a gun violence issue, and a public data issue. In the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, there were, on average, 13 shootings every single day last year, and the only reason we know this is because of open data platform Fogo Cruzado. They collect data in real-time on shootings happening in Rio and other cities across Brazil via their app, social media, and public police reports, and they make that data publicly available for ordinary citizens, organisations, and journalists to use. The founder of Fogo Cruzado, Cecília Olliveira, explains how it all works, and how having data can help set the public agenda.

The blue map: environmentalist action in China
Only 10 years ago, Beijing was a city covered in smog with many residents opting to wear pollution masks. Now, the situation has, remarkably, improved, with blue skies being a normal sight. One possible reason for this drastic change is environmentalist Ma Jun, who, in 2006, started the blue map database aggregating government data and making it more easily accessible to the public. Since then, the blue map project has grown into an app that lets users check many types of environmental data and even contribute to the database themselves by simply taking a picture of a dirty river, a cloud of smog, or a factory that isn’t following environmental guidelines. Gareth speaks to Ma Jun, founding director of China’s Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs and founder of the Blue Map, about how this crowdsourcing approach works, and how environmental activism in China differs from Western countries.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

Studio ...

Self-driving cars on the horizon?

A recent amendment to a regulation by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will extend automated driving technology to 130 km/h. The regulation, which will come into effect in January 2023, will set the standard for car manufacturers to develop so-called "level 3" autonomous vehicle. Gareth speaks to Francois Guichard, who is leading UN regulations on vehicle automation, about what "level 3" really means, and when we will see these types of cars on the road. Also, Prof Jack Stilgoe tells us about the potential issues and implications of self-driving technology.

Robbed of mobile innovation
In many cities globally, urban robberies have become a familiar occurrence, so much so that many people have started to develop their own strategies to mitigate losing their mobile phone. In São Paulo, some leave their phones at home or take a second throw-away phone that they can give away instead, but there are more technological solutions as well. Expert contributor Angelica Mari tells us more, and shares why this is affecting the adoption of mobile phone innovation, in particular fintech.

Crypto adoption during Argentina's inflation crisis
In Argentina, rising inflation has become a growing issue. Economy minister Martin Guzman resigned earlier this month, and annual inflation is set to hit above 70%. In light of the peso's instability, some Argentines are deciding to invest in cryptocurrencies instead. Is this a safer bet? Could crypto adoption affect Argentina's economy? Our reporter Lucía Cholakian has been finding out more.

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
Producer: Florian Bohr

(Image: Auto driving system and technology. Credit: show999 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

3 episodes