Google pledges to give 100,000 Home Mini devices to people living with paralysis


Google pledges to give 100,000 Home Mini devices to people living with paralysis to provide voice-activated assistance

  • Google will give out 100,000 Google Home Minis to people with paralysis 
  • The hub allows people to control lights, thermostats, and more with their voice 
  • It’s offering is one of several initiatives aimed at making Google more accessible 

Google will give away 100,000 of its smart home device to those living with paralysis according to a blog post.

The company announced that it will be sending its Google Home mini to people with physical disabilities in an effort to help improve their lives at home.

According to Garrison Redd, an ambassador for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, who has been unable to walk for the past 20 years, the devices can make a huge difference for someone who relies on a wheelchair to move.

‘When you’re paralyzed, your home goes from being a place of comfort and security to a reminder of what you’ve lost,’ wrote Redd in a blog post for Google.

‘Light switches and thermostats are usually too high up on the wall and, if my phone falls on the floor, I may not be able to call a friend or family member if I need help. 

‘These may seem like simple annoyances but, to members of the paralysis community, they reinforce the lack of control and limitations we often face.’

According to Redd, the device has helped to overcome those difficulties. 

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‘The first thing I did was connect Mini to my Nest Thermostat (the one that’s a tad too high). 

‘Hey Google, turn down the thermostat’ is especially useful these days in the summer heat,’ wrote Redd.

Perhaps even more importantly, Redd wrote that in the event of an emergency, the smart hub is there to help him easily make a phone call to a friend, loved one, or to the police.

‘On a serious note, I know that if I need help but cannot reach my phone, I can use my Mini to call my mom or cousin using only my voice,’ wrote Redd.

Redd said the device helps him carry out a number of tasks that range from contacting someone in an emergency to putting on music for his workout.

Smart home devices have helped to make navigating one's home easier for people living with physical handicaps

Smart home devices have helped to make navigating one’s home easier for people living with physical handicaps

Smart home devices have gotten a bad rap recently for listening in and sometimes hearing private conversations, but for people with disabilities the technology has unlocked a world of accessibility options. 

For instance, cable provider Comcast  recently added ‘eye control’ to its suite of accessibility features, allowing physically disabled viewers to operate TV’s using only their gaze

The feature allows users to do just about anything that can be done with a physical remote, including using the guide, scheduling recordings, and navigating other menus. 

For Google, the latest offering will further several initiatives announced earlier this year which are designed to make its Google assistant and other products more accessible.

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WHICH SMART SPEAKER SHOULD YOU BUY?

Gadget makers are flocking to create smart speakers. 

Already Samsung has revealed plans for a Bixby speaker to take on Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.

Apple’s speaker will have a higher price tag than the Amazon Echo range, which begins at $49 (£49) for the Echo Dot.

The speaker will provide a hub for appliances via Apple’s HomeKit system and establish a centre inside the home to lock people in to using other Apple services, according to the report.

A speaker might help customers stay loyal to other services such as Apple Music, Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods. 

Google’s $130 (£105) Home speaker is triggered by the phrase ‘Hey Google’ while Amazon’s Echo uses ‘Alexa’.

Amazon's $50 (£40)  Echo Dot puts the firm's smart speaker in a small package

Amazon’s $50 (£40) Echo Dot puts the firm’s smart speaker in a small package

Amazon’s smart speaker is available in two versions – the full sized $180 (£145) Echo shown here, and a smaller, $50 (£40) version called the Echo Dot.

Amazon Echo uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine to provide additional information, while Google Home uses the company’s own Google Search.

Both Home and Echo are continually listening for commands, though Google and Amazon say nothing gets passed back to them until the speakers hear a keyword — ‘OK, Google’ for Home and ‘Alexa’ for Echo.

Google Home Mini:  Google's clever tech-filled $49 (£34) doughnut can do almost
everything its bigger voicecontrolled
Google Assistantpowered
sibling can do,
including answer questions
and control third-party devices.

Google Home Mini:  Google’s clever tech-filled $49 (£34) doughnut can do almosteverything its bigger voicecontrolledGoogle Assistantpoweredsibling can do,including answer questionsand control third-party devices.

Google’s Assistant software is also able to answer follow-up questions on the same topic, in a near-conversation style, but Echo as yet cannot.

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However, Amazon’s Alexa software has a wider range of skills on offer that enable it to link up with and control more third-party devices around the home.

A light comes on to remind you that it’s listening.

You can turn off the microphone temporarily, too. 

 



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