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New AI 'Gabriel' wants to whisper instructions in your ear

The software is designed to provide cognitive assistance for patients with brain injuries.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are building an AI platform that will "whisper" instructions in your ear to provide cognitive assistance. Named after Gabriel, the biblical messenger of God, the whispering robo-assistant can already guide you through the process of building a basic Lego object. But, the ultimate goal is to provide wearable cognitive assistance to millions of people who live with Alzheimer's, brain injuries or other neurodegenerative conditions. For instance, if a patient forgets the name of a relative, Gabriel could whisper the name in their ear. It could also be programmed to help patients through everyday tasks that will decrease their dependence on caregivers.

For the software to exist as a working wearable assistant, it will need a head-mounted device to latch onto. For now, the team is using Google Glass for demos like a ping pong assistant, where the programs tells the user to hit the ball to the right or left depending on the position of the ball in relation to the opponent. In the video below, when the user follows the guidance it makes it harder for the opponent to defend the ball in the game.

The research, which received a 2.8 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, is essentially relying on cloudlets, which the team is calling Elijah. The team describes a cloudlet as an element between mobile computing and cloud computing that allows a user to rely on the nearest computing machine, instead of sending the information to a distant, remote server. According to CMU, "cloudlets are the enabling technology for a new genre of resource-intensive but latency-sensitive mobile applications that will emerge in the future." One such application will be cognitive assistance. For a program to enhance the user's ability to recognize and respond to the environment, low latency will make all the difference.