One of the best sessions that I attended at the Voice summit last week, was Cathy Pearl’s Democratization of Voice. The reason this talk resonated with me is that it really highlighted one of the strongest themes at this year’s conference and that is that one of the biggest cohorts to benefit from voice technology, even in its infancy and primitive state, is our disabled population. I live-tweeted this session if you’re interested in seeing my live takeaways:
— Dave Kemp (@Oaktree_Dave) July 24, 2019
Back at Google I/O’s developer conference in May this year, Google rolled out a handful of new accessibility programs, which I wrote about in a May daily update. Each of these new programs made an appearance in Cathy’s talk, which was largely centered around how voice technology can be leveraged by a wide range of people with disabilities. For example, we saw a video of a 19 year old with a rare type of muscular dystrophy that restricts his mobility greatly. He was able to use Google Assistant in conjunction with a number of connected IoT devices to outfit his bedroom and control every thing from the lights to the TV to the blinds, using his voice.
The ability to outfit one’s home like this is life-changing for both the user as well as the caregivers. That’s what makes me so excited about this technology. To me, it might seem trivial to be able to control my lights via my voice, but it’s a godsend for the folks who live with debilitating diseases and disabilities, not to mention the caregivers which the technology reduces the burden on.
Which is why I think it’s so cool that Google announced it will be giving away 100,000 free Google Minis through the Christopher Reeve foundation to celebrate the American with Disabilities Act’s 29th birthday. How cool is that? My main takeaway from Cathy’s talk is that one of the most obvious impacts voice technology has had over these past few years, is the ability to empower our disabled populations, restore one’s dignity, and reduce the burden on our caregivers. So when I see that Google is stepping up and pledging 100,000 devices to help amplify this movement, well, that’s good by me.
-Thanks for Reading-