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Immersive Reader — baby steps towards using the cloud and AI to support reading

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Microsoft have recently announced the general availability of Immersive Reader, one of the Azure Cognitive Services. Immersive Reader is probably more applicable to schools and, maybe, FE than to universities but is interesting nonetheless:

Empowering remote learning with Azure Cognitive Services
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/empowering-remote-lea....

Immersive Reader is an Azure Cognitive Service within the Azure AI platform that helps readers read and comprehend text. Through today’s general availability, developers and partners can add Immersive Reader right into their products, enabling students of all abilities to translate in over 70 languages, read text aloud, focus attention through highlighting, other design elements, and more.

So… two thoughts on the back of this announcement.

Firstly, whilst the service is far from perfect, it is yet another great example of how the big cloud vendors provide so much more than just ‘infrastructure’ — and how they can do this not just because of their extensive resources and capability but also because of their reach — geographic, commercial, operational and organisational.

So if you want to understand where AI is going, look to the hyperscalers because that is where much of the action is happening. Of course, it’s also true that if you want to understand where security is going, you should look to the hyperscalers. And if you want to understand where connectivity is going, look to the hyperscalers. And if you want to understad where data analytics is going, you should look to the hyperscalers… you get my drift.

But I digress.

My second thought is that, if you go to the Immersive Reader page — see https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cognitive-service... — there’s a link to try it out, using the following sentence as the example:

Immersive Reader is an Azure Cognitive Service for developers who want to embed inclusive capabilities into their apps for enhancing text reading and comprehension for users regardless of age or ability.

I challenge anyone (human or machine) to read that sentence in a way that aids comprehension. It’s too long and doesn’t have obvious breaks in it.

Odd choice of example? Maybe? Or maybe that is why they chose it??

Whatever… if AI was really intelligent, it would first break the sentence into two…

Immersive Reader is an Azure Cognitive Service for developers who want to embed inclusive capabilities into their apps. It enhances text reading and comprehension for users regardless of age or ability.

… then read it out loud :-). Now that would be intelligent!

We’ll get there. One day.

Originally published at https://cloud.jiscinvolve.org.

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A blog by andypowe11

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Andy Powell

Andy Powell

Cloud CTO, Jisc

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