Personal Digital Assistants

The future of Assistive Technology!

by Martin Morandell, Smart in Life, Austria, trainer at ICC 2019

“Woow”, “cool”, “incredible” and “amazing!!” These are reactions you can hear at ICC when the participants try out new technology, in particular when they realize that it really can improve their quality of life and their independence.

In the recent years artificial intelligence, virtual reality, speech assistants and wearable devices become more available on the market, with many cool features in  off-the-shelf products as well in dedicated assistive technology products and services.

At the camp we had all kinds of technology to be tried out. Among these were smart speech assistants like “Amazon Alexa”, AI Cameras with object and OCR detection like the Orcam and digital magnifying headsets like giving vision and IrisVision.

These magnifying glasses use a smart phone and the VR headsets. The camera of the smartphone captures the picture, that then can be magnified and processed in different ways. Like this – it acts like Zoomtext for real-world-settings for visually impaired and blind people, even for those with very low vision. Students, who normally could recognise visually objects in a very close range, like 1-2 meters, were able to read signs that are in a distance of 10 meters. They were able to recognize details of the face of the person sitting opposite them, associated with a big “incredible”.

The IrisVision digital magnifying glasses can be used in non-mobile settings, in example in a classroom, or to watch TV. You can follow what the teacher is writing on the whiteboard, taking photos of it or magnify the form to fill out. With the video-mode you can zoom in into youtube video scenes and look at details in a magnified way.

The OrCam offers possibilities to have a “digital virtual assistant” next to your ear, reading aloud text, telling you the name of prior recognized faces in a room or describing scenes in a certain way. Like this it brings a new level of independence to blind and legally blind people.

New digital assistants, like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistants also can make the life much easier in many ways. Creating simple smart-home settings can not only be fun, but also make the life much easier.
ICC is the venue for young people to learn about new technology developed or already at the market. Learning in an independent way about possibilities and good use scenarios is essential to increase the independence for education, work and participation in social life.