Technology: RNIB teams up with O2 to improve accessibility for people living with sight loss

As the demand for voice-activated technology grows, charity RNIB has teamed up with O2 and Australian artificial intelligence developers RealThing AI to develop RealSAM In Your Pocket, the UK’s first fully voice-activated smart phone, media player and personal assistant. 

More than two million people in the UK live with sight loss today, and the RNIB expects that over four million people will be living with sight loss in the UK by the year 2050. Those affected are likely to experience reduced wellbeing and independence compared to the rest of the population. 

This fact leaves the demand for accessible, voice-activated technology greater than ever before. 

UK first

A technology that aims to improve accessibility for those two million people is the UK’s first fully voice-activated smart phone, media player and personal assistant for people with sight loss. The RealSAM In Your Pocket was developed with input from the blind community and features a simple accessible voice interface. 

Users are able to ask ‘SAM’ for help in everyday life, including: turning on the inbuilt video magnifier when reading labels; using custom-built navigation software that allows users to bookmark landmarks when travelling alone and be guided back with direction and distance. 

RealSAM is a communication device to reduce isolation, an entertainment device to improve quality of life, and an assistant that supports independent living. 

The device also connects directly to Be My Eyes, an online community of over two million volunteers who help people with sight loss through live video call. 

Independence

Roger Wilson-Hinds has both sight and hearing loss and volunteered as part of the development team for RealSAM In Your Pocket.

Commenting on the features that have helped him most during recent months, Roger says: “There’s no doubt that RealSAM In Your Pocket was an essential companion to me during the recent lockdown.

“My wife and I were able to enjoy daily walks, continue to shop for ourselves and stay connected to our grandchildren, without relying on the help of carers”.

Roger believes that the possibilities are endless for how artificial intelligence will transform the lives of people with disabilities, he continues: “What I love about the advances we’re seeing with artificial intelligence is that everything is focused on making the user experience simpler. And for people with a disability who want to live independently, this simplicity really is the most important thing”.

RealSAM In Your Pocket is the result of a two-year collaboration that identified the need for a portable device, specifically for the visually impaired, that combines technologies to aid safety and independence.

To find out more about the RealSAM In Your Pocket please click here or call 0333 772 7708.

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