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Blackwood design award, designer at a desk and sideways face with linked lines in the brain

E.A. Draffan

Welcoming new ideas for AAC symbol creation in 2023

Our year starts with the news that we have been shortlisted for the Blackwood Design Awards that will be hosted at the V&A in Dundee on January 12th 2023. We are thrilled as this is "an international competition that seeks to find brilliant inventions and concepts that have the potential to change lives". Hopefully the weather will be kind and a trip to Dundee will be possible, as this is so special and we feel very honoured to have been sent an invitation to attend the event. A chance to learn more from others about new innovations and designs. Invitation to BDA 2022 Design Awards V&A Dundee 12th January 2023

We entered our Symbol Creator that has become part of the Board Builder web app. It has made it possible for any Global Symbols users to adapt their own images and add open licenced symbols to suit their needs and save them in a personal repository once signed into the web site. We found that when working on our communication boards for the free Carer's training resources, it was easy to add to symbols with elements to support recent COVID situations - the example below has a clock added to show the time tablets need to be taken. In recent months more than 1,324 new users used the app. symbol creator time for tablets Our other news this month is that we will be working on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) project with a team from the School of Electronics and Computer Science including Professor Mike Wald and Dr Chaohai Ding thanks to a Web Science Institute Stimulus Fund . The project lasts for just six months with the aim of looking into the use of “AI for AAC symbol style transformation and auto-generation from other images”. This will be a very challenging task, as the training data will be limited to one open licenced symbol set and in order to make this idea useful it really needs to be based on a text to image model so that users can request a symbol concept and be provided with an image in the style of the open licenced symbol set they prefer. Thinking about this idea and using present day text to image generators three of us started to experiment.

David wanted to "understand how far some of the AI art generators could go in creating a symbol for Christmas. The generators require you to write a text string for the image that you are thinking of - describe what the image needs to contain or might look like. These three symbols used words such as symbol or Icon, I stressed that I wanted a white background with Black ink, and I used different words associated with Christmas, sometimes I added tree for instance where I thought that the Christmas tree was a strong representation of the holiday season. After about 15 minutes I had about 15 images created and these three were my favourites."

Christmas images

Mike tried 'reindeer outline' and commented that each time he put in the text a different image appeared.

reindeer outline

I wanted to test whether I could generate a symbol that would be acceptable and possibly similar to the different styles offered by Deepai, as a way of seeing if a symbol can be generated in a specific style. Not all results were successful when typing in ‘Christmas star’ and adding the word symbol or icon, but rather surprisingly the 3D and first AI image generator option were most successful with no complex backgrounds.

2 stars

We have much to learn! Wishing you all a very good year with thanks to ARASAAC for their Happy New Year symbol. designed by Pictograms author Sergio Palao. Licence: CC (BY-NC-SA). Owner: Government of Aragon (Spain)

Happy New Year

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