A joint initiative to bring the advantages of smart meter technology to the homes of blind or partially sighted people is being launched by Energy UK, the trade association for the UK energy industry, geo, the pioneering developer of smarter energy products and services for consumers, and RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People).
The partnership has been formed against the backdrop of the nationwide smart meter rollout, designed to help consumers gain greater control over their home energy usage. The aim of the three partners is to ensure that accessible in-home displays are made available to those who are blind or partially sighted. Energy UK is leading the delivery of the Accessible In-Home Displays (AIHD), which are being designed by geo to be easy to use and include colourful and tactile buttons and speech output. RNIB is providing expert advice into the project working alongside blind and partially sighted user groups to provide feedback and guidance in to the overall design specification.
Energy UK is presenting the latest update on the project at the Techshare Europe Event in Glasgow (15-16 September), the primary forum for accessible technology and supported by the tech industry’s leading names including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix and the BBC.
Energy UK will present details on how the AIHD will work during a presentation on the second day of the event, and a simulated demo will also be provided from the RNIB stand.
‘Smart meter technology provides the foundation for a real digital dividend for energy consumers and Energy UK is determined that everyone should reap the benefits’, said Lawrence Slade of Energy UK. ‘The partnership between ourselves, geo and RNIB to develop an AIHD that allows the blind and partially sighted to improve energy efficiency and reduce spending on gas and electricity is a great example of how Energy UK and its members are leading industry collaboration, focussed on bringing innovation and value to all consumers.
John Worsfold, RNIB implementation manager, said: ‘With the government drive for smart meters to be in 53 million homes by 2020, it is necessary that blind and partially sighted customers are given equal access to the opportunity to monitor energy usage and potentially save energy and money. We’re pleased to be talking at RNIB Techshare about the joint work with Energy UK and geo and the progress this inclusive project has made.’
Patrick Caiger-Smith at geo, said: ‘Currently the In-Home Displays that are installed with smart meters are not accessible to blind and partially sighted people, so we have been working with RNIB to develop a display designed with inclusion in mind. It will allow sighted, partially sighted and blind individuals to interact with the device, accessing and understanding their energy usage in real time without the need to rely on the visual display. We are delighted that it will be demonstrated at Techshare, and look forward to a positive response.’
The partnership between ourselves, geo and RNIB to develop an AIHD that allows the blind and partially sighted to improve energy efficiency and reduce spending on gas and electricity is a great example of how Energy UK and its members are leading industry collaboration, focussed on bringing innovation and value to all consumers.