Microsoft and Team Gleason, the nonprofit organization founded by NFL player Steve Gleason, today launched Project Insight to create an open dataset of facial imagery of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The organizations hope to foster innovation in computer vision and broaden the potential for connectivity and communication for people with accessibility challenges.
Microsoft and Team Gleason assert that existing machine learning datasets don’t represent the diversity of people with ALS, a condition that affects as many as 30,000 people in the U.S. This results in issues accurately identifying people, due to breathing masks, droopy eyelids, watery eyes, and dry eyes from medications that control excessive saliva.
Project Insight will investigate how to use data and AI with the front-facing camera already present in many assistive devices to predict where a person is looking on a screen. Team Gleason will work with Microsoft’s Health Next Enable team to gather images of people with ALS looking at their computer so it can train AI models more inclusively. (Microsoft’s Health Next team, which is within its Health AI division, focuses on AI and cloud-based services to improve health outcomes.) Participants will be given a brief medical history questionnaire and be prompted through an app to submit images of themselves using their computer.
“ALS progression can be as diverse as the individuals themselves,” Team Gleason chief impact officer Blair Casey said. “So accessing computers and communication devices should not be a one-size-fits-all. We will capture as much information as possible from 100 people living with ALS so we can develop tools for all to effectively use.”
Microsoft and Team Gleason estimate that the project will collect and share 5TB of anonymized data with researchers on data science platforms like Kaggle and GitHub.
“There is a significant lack of disability-specific data that is