geo attended a packed second annual Tech Share Pro Event in London, hosted by Ability Net, Barclays, Google and the RNIB.
Sam Sykes, geo’s Chief Innovations Officer, along with the RNIB’s John Worsfold and Sabine Croxford, gave a presentation on our Accessible In-Home Display (AIHD) and how working together the two companies have produced a compelling and accessible device that, for the first time gives those with sight and dexterity challenges access to real-time and historical information on home energy use. As part of our Trio range of products, the AIHD puts information that was previously elusive to consumers – from energy cost and usage, current and future tariffs and the tools to manage an energy budget.
The event had a number of thought provoking discussions, including from Google and Apple on how they, as the undeniable market-leaders in personal devices, take accessibility as a critical component to their suite of products. With Apple commanding a near 70% of those who use personal devices with a disability, they pride themselves on treating every user with equal attention to detail and thought.
Kiran Kaja, the lead in the accessible Google Home range of products, gave an insight into how voice has provided a revolutionary way for many to be able to engage with and control their homes. As a completely blind man, he was able to articulate how the seemingly impossible tasks from the past were now achievable, and how Google wants to expand the capabilities of their Home products to help even more users.
Other talks included Audio Descriptions by RNIB, Procter & Gamble, ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC – bringing a description to what’s being shown, not just subtitles. This process is echoed with our own AIHD where we take the view that if something is being shown on the screen, then it must be described to those who have difficulty in seeing it.
One inspirational talk and discussion was with Be My Eyes – a truly remarkable smartphone app that lets those with sight and dexterity challenges reach out to a crowdsourced community of volunteers to ask them what the user is looking at. With over 1.2 million volunteers and hundreds of thousands of blind users, it’s making waves. Think of it as a “is this shampoo or conditioner?” or “is this where 200 degrees is on my oven?” We thoroughly recommend you take a read about this app and volunteer – we have.
The resounding sense from the day was that accessibility does not mean disability but opportunity. An opportunity for us all to work together and make sure that the products and services we make are designed for all.