A bit-appreciated reality about Amazon’s Alexa is the place the voice service’s public debut happened earlier than it turned extensively out there to clients. The venue was CSUN, the longstanding convention devoted to assistive know-how for individuals with disabilities, notably imaginative and prescient loss. No one had extra to realize from a machine that might present fast replies to spoken questions, and no group might present extra incisive suggestions.
At the upcoming Sight Tech Global convention on December 7 & 8 (digital and free — register here), two of Amazon’s foremost accessibility leaders, Peter Korn, Director of Accessibility, Devices & Services, and Dr. Joshua Miele, Principal Accessibility Researcher, will talk about how Amazon continues to dig deeper into the accessibility and equity surrounding the outstanding Alexa voice service, which is utilized by tens of millions of shoppers world wide, billions of instances every week.
As Korn and Miele will level out, the benefits Alexa confers to blind individuals, for instance, doesn’t essentially work in the identical method for individuals who have speech disabilities; on the identical time, Alexa’s capabilities way back escaped the bounds of speech-based interplay. Today, 30% of Alexa interactions within the house usually are not prompted by customers’ voice instructions however by Alexa’s fascinating facet hustles like Hunches and Routines.
And in a nod to the fact that not everybody speaks in a method that Alexa can perceive as we speak, Amazon lately joined a consortium of know-how firms, together with Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft, to launch the Speech Accessibility Project with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), which is utilizing AI and new voice datasets to make speech recognition methods, like Alexa, and different voice providers higher capable of perceive numerous speech patterns.
For individuals who work in assistive applied sciences, it was no shock that Alexa’s first public debut was at CSUN. Many outstanding applied sciences have began with the blind. It was know-how legend Ray Kurzweil who in 1976 took an enormous step ahead in optical character recognition (OCR), the ancestor of as we speak’s pc imaginative and prescient, when he unveiled the $50,000 Kurzweil Reading Machine at a press convention hosted by the National Federation of the Blind. OCR spawned numerous companies exterior of accessibility, in addition to many highly effective and just about free instruments utilized by the blind as we speak, together with many we talk about at Sight Tech Global.
The Alexa that Amazon demoed almost eight years in the past in entrance of the CSUN viewers has accomplished simply the identical, rising right into a service with an enormous variety of options, like Show and Tell and Notify When Nearby, that assist an growing variety of individuals, partially due to the Amazon workforce’s deal with an inclusive method that goals to go away nobody behind whereas additionally making Alexa higher and extra useful for everybody.
Join Sight Tech Global for this session and plenty of extra, which you’ll see on the complete agenda. Now in its third yr, Sight Tech Global brings collectively the world’s high technologists in AI and different superior applied sciences to deal with assistive know-how for the people who find themselves blind. Register today.
We’re grateful to sponsors iSenpai, Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, HumanWare, Microsoft, Ford, Fable, APH and Waymo. If you wish to sponsor the occasion, please contact us. All sponsorship revenues go to the nonprofit Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which has been serving the Silicon Valley neighborhood for 75 years.