New AI speakers make news and entertainment accessible for those with sight loss
Launching today, a new AI personal assistant for blind and visually impaired people will, for the first time, deliver news updates, over 27,000 books, the latest official coronavirus information podcasts, and helpful information from a range of UK sight loss charities all on the one platform.
Developed by assistive technology specialist RealSAM, the new Smart Speaker solution is innovative artificial intelligence (AI) technology bringing previously inaccessible news and entertainment content to its subscribers.
For those shielding or in need of entertainment in an audio accessible format, the RealSAM Smart Speaker platform hosts thousands of books including the latest releases, radio stations, podcasts, resources from charities and the latest coronavirus advice. This ensures those who are blind or visually impaired don’t miss out on the latest information or launches.
The RealSAM Smart Speaker was trialled extensively ahead of launch by members of the blind community.
One member who is registered blind, Roger Wilson-Hinds, commented: “The RealSAM Speaker is the companion in the home that blind people need. And to be able to access specialist information from sight loss organisations really is the icing on the cake.”
As the first accessible hub tailored for those with sight loss, the RealSAM Smart Speaker is a fully voice-controlled media player tool that, once subscribed to, is available to use on Google Home device from today and on Alexa devices from May 2021.
Calibre Audio – a national charity providing an audiobook service for anyone with a disability that makes reading print difficult – will also be accessible via RealSAM, making it the UK’s first audiobook library for blind people on smart speakers.
Subscribers to the platform will get access to the latest Calibre book releases, which can include books released on the same day as the print version. The Calibre collection with RealSAM is split into 69 categories including classics, biographies, crime and popular fiction.
Parents looking for additional resources for children who are blind or have visual impairments can utilise over 3,000 audiobooks specifically for children and young people, including Key Stage 1-4, GCSE and A Level texts to assist with studies.
To access the RealSAM Smart Speaker content, the user signs up to the subscription service online to access the Action that is added to their Google Home. To start, people can say “Hey Google, talk to RealSAM”, followed by prompts such as “read me a book” or “find podcasts on Covid-19’’ or ‘’play football results’’ to get the latest information.
The smart speakers can also be multi-command controlled. This allows a user to ask a series of building questions, a tool that is particularly useful for anyone needing to operate technology fully by voice. For example, users can search for books by genre, then an author, then a title.
Utilising the latest in AI technology, the new RealSAM Smart Speaker starts from £19.90 for a 10-month subscription and also hosts content from leading UK sight loss charities such as the RNIB, Henshaws, Galloways, Torch Trust, Blind Veterans UK, and the Peterborough Association of the Blind.
Commenting on the new service, Louise Humphreys, UK Country Manager for RealSAM, said: “We are thrilled to be able to welcome so many of the country’s leading sight loss organisations to our platform and assist in making their information more accessible to blind people. We developed this service in response to feedback from our partners and customers and hope our dedicated hub will reduce some of the complexity in accessing information for people with sight loss.”