Amazon Show and Tell image

Amazon has unveiled its new accessible Show and Tell feature for its Alexa voice-command technology, where people can hold up a food or drink item to Alexa’s camera, which then recognises what that item is and tells the individual what they’re holding.

The Show and Tell feature helps people who are blind or have vision impairments identify their groceries at home with ease, and removes the need for visually impaired people to rely on another person to tell them what they’re holding.

Show and Tell works in coordination with Amazon Echo, an Alexa-enabled device which allows people to ask questions and carry out various tasks entirely by voice command. For instance, people can play music, set alarms, check the weather, manage shopping lists and ask questions to the Amazon Echo.

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Then, Amazon Echo connects to Amazon Echo Show, a screen with a camera which enables people to watch TV shows, make Skype calls and view films.

With Show and Tell, blind and low vision clients can hold up an item to the Echo Show camera and ask, “Alexa, what am I holding,” and Alexa helps identify the item through advanced computer vision and machine learning technologies for object recognition.

Amazon worked with blind and visually impaired people as well as collaborated with the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in California to help create the Show and Tell feature.

“The whole idea for Show and Tell came about from feedback from blind and low vision customers,” said Sarah Caplener, Head of Amazon’s Alexa for Everyone team. “We heard that product identification can be a challenge and something customers wanted Alexa’s help with.

“Whether a customer is sorting through a bag of groceries, or trying to determine what item was left out on the counter, we want to make those moments simpler by helping identify these items and giving customers the information they need in that moment.”

Stacie Grijalva, who lost her sight suddenly at age 41, has been using Amazon’s new accessibility feature to help her everyday life a bit easier.

She said: “It’s a tremendous help and a huge time saver because the Echo Show just sits on my counter, and I don’t have to go and find another tool or person to help me identify something. I can do it on my own by just asking Alexa.”

You can see Amazon Show and Tell in action here:

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