"Alexa, what am I holding?"
The latest Echo Show feature, Show and Tell, will make it easier for blind and partially sighted customers to identify common household grocery items that are hard to distinguish by touch, such as canned or boxed foods.
Customers simply say, “Alexa, what am I holding?” or “Alexa, what’s in my hand?” to get started. Alexa will help to identify the item through advanced computer vision and machine learning technologies for object recognition.
Amazon believes in starting from the customer and working backwards, a philosophy also applied to inventing and using our technology resources for good. That means paying attention to what all of our customers are telling us.
Dennis Stansbury, UK Country Manager for Alexa, said: “The whole idea for Show and Tell came about from feedback from blind and partially sighted customers. We understood that product identification can be a challenge for these customers, and something customers wanted Alexa’s help with. Whether a customer is sorting through a bag of shopping, or trying to determine what item was left out on the worktop, we want to make those moments simpler by helping identify these items and giving customers the information they need in that moment.”
Using voice-connected technology
Life of a Blind Girl blogger and tech expert Holly Tuke, who uses a range of accessible gadgets to support her day-to-day living, was given early access to the new Show and Tell Alexa feature.
Giving feedback on the new feature, Holly says: “I love voice-connected technology and I’m fascinated by how the latest innovations can make my life easier and more fun, so I was both intrigued and delighted that Amazon asked me to check out the Show and Tell feature ahead of launch.”
My Echo Show sits on my kitchen worktop, and the new Show and Tell feature helps me identify a household item without the need for another tool or person.
“Canned food, cartons and bottles can be indistinguishable to someone living with sight loss, and when you’re baking, preparing meals and taking care of housework it can be challenging to identify common household products – that’s why Show and Tell proves to be a tremendous help and a huge time-saver,” she explains.
“Every Amazon Echo can be fully accessible for people with a visual impairment like myself, including the Amazon Echo Show which has a screen and comes in three sizes. These devices have been developed with accessibility in mind, so as well as the new Show and Tell feature – which is fantastic! – there’s also a screen-reader called VoiceView, a screen magnifier, colour inversion and colour correction. I’m excited to see how the Show and Tell feature will develop in the future. It could be a real game-changer for blind and partially sighted people,” Holly adds.
Commenting on the new feature, Robin Spinks, Senior Innovation Manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), says, “Computer vision and artificial intelligence are game changers in tech that are increasingly being used to help blind and partially sighted people identify everyday products. Amazon’s Show and Tell uses these features to great effect, helping blind and partially sighted people quickly identify items with ease.
“For example, using Show and Tell in my kitchen has allowed me to easily and independently differentiate between the jars, tins and packets in my cupboards. It takes the uncertainty out of finding the right ingredient I need for the recipe I’m following and means that I can get on with my cooking without needing to check with anyone else.”
Innovation inspired by customers
Show and Tell was also developed in close collaboration with blind or partially sighted Amazon employees, including US-based principal accessibility researcher, Josh Miele. His decades of experience designing and evaluating the effectiveness of products for people with visual disabilities provided valuable insight into product and research design.
“I get to help create products like Show and Tell, make our Fire tablets and TVs accessible and delightful, and constantly help to imagine new ways for our products and services to improve the lives of our customers, including those with disabilities,” said Miele.
Show and Tell is now available to Alexa customers in the UK on all Echo Show devices. Customers can simply say, “Alexa, what am I holding?” to get started.
Follow the steps below:
- Hold your item 30 cm away from your device's camera, located in the upper right corner.
- Say, "Alexa, what am I holding?" or "Alexa, what's in my hand?".
- When prompted, turn your item around slowly to show all sides of the packaging. Alexa will help you position the item with tips and sound.
For more information about accessible features, please visit the Alexa Accessibility Hub – created to inform and inspire, providing a single destination for customers to learn about Accessibility with Alexa. This hub includes both informational content, such as how-to guides to use Alexa Accessibility features, as well as stories from our UK Alexa customers. You can share yours with MyAlexaStory@amazon.co.uk.
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