OTTAA Project: AI Algorithms for Assistive Communications
The OTTAA Project is part of UNICEF’s Innovation Fund Investments in Skills and Connectivity
Communication enables us to learn, express ourselves, and grow as a community. OTTAA Project is the first augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) platform that uses environmental data, a powerful artificial intelligence algorithm, and a pictogram-based communication code for users to create sentences and communicate effectively.
Through the mobile platform, users’ can voice out their words through the device, and send WhatsApp or Facebook messages. They create sentences by using images, that when the users decide, taps on the screen and OTTAA reads his sentences out loud. The OTTAA platform allows speech impaired people, regardless of their location, culture, socioeconomic status, to communicate with the world. Using a simple three-tap interaction, speech-impaired people are able to communicate what they want to say or how they feel.
Since the inception of OTTAA we have been working with the support of the leading health professionals and institutions, and have had the opportunity to be part of the two impact accelerators networks (Katapult Accelerator and StartUpChile). To date, our solution has impacted more than 40,000 people in more than 11 countries.
Artificial intelligence is core to the OTTAA Project’s innovative augmentative and alternative communication software. With this technology, our software suggests to the user the most appropriate pictograms according to their environment, their daily routines, and their most used phrases.
Our platform uses data points such as the time of the day, user age, gender, location, and previous usage to preselect 4 pictograms from our database of 18,000 pictograms. The algorithm learns from each pictogram a user chooses and continuously suggests related pictograms, enabling the user to quickly and effectively create and voice out a complete and powerful sentence.
To encourage more diversity and options for users, we constantly train our algorithm by analyzing more than 1.8 million sentences previously created by other users. We also offer games to foster kids' vocabulary and a monthly report to keep track of their progress.
Open source leverages the power of the community to solve complex problems related to code. It creates a community that cares about our solution and everyone feels that they are contributing.
We have seen multiple solutions with a very narrow scope. By encouraging people to participate in our code, we will have a more encompassing solution, channeling technology and the energy of thousands of fathers, mothers, uncles, aunt or cousins of people with disabilities into a common objective — to return the voice to all those who have lost it.
We are hoping to get a wide range of contributions, from usability suggestions up to code contribution.
Our company is composed of five passionate team members with complementary backgrounds, fully committed to delivering our very best every single day, making a difference in the company outcomes and social impact. Team members include biomedical engineers, communication experts, software developers, and accountants. Two of them are brothers and co-founders' linked by a personal encounter with disability, they decided to change the world´s status quo of assistive communication and disability.
The idea for OTTAA Project was sparked by Lidia, the grandmother of the company’s co-founders. Lidia had Alzheimer's and wasn't able to speak. With this motivation, OTTAA Project was founded in 2016 with the aim of creating an alternative communication platform. Once we had an MVP ready, we tested our App, but unfortunately, she wasn't able to use it.
The team has what it takes to push the company to the next level. The core team is also supported by our ongoing internship program, placing two biomedical engineers on specific projects.
THE WAY AHEAD
OTTAA's mission is to return the voice to all those who have lost it. We are thrilled for this opportunity to be a part of a worldwide cohort that shares our passion and vision for creating equal learning opportunities for all children and youth. Over the coming year, we will be developing an online version of the platform. With the help of the UNICEF Innovation Fund and synergies with our cohort, we will be one step closer to achieving our mission.