Amazon helping the blind with new Echo 'Show and tell' feature

The Amazon Echo has been a useful tool for millions of households, with blind users above all loving its ability to easily provide information. That utility now extends to helping identify everyday groceries using the Echo Show's built-in camera.

Alexa does it again for accessibility

I've written many articles about smartspeakers (and the Echo in particular) and their power to effortlessly provide information and services for people with disabilities - even to the extent of controlling the physical world around us for those with significant motor impairments. With a recent announcement of an invisible update to existing models of those Amazon Echoes with a screen - the Echo Show 5 - the abilities of Alexa to assist with accessibility have reached an entirely new level.

For the blind, knowing what cans, packets, boxes and jars fill your kitchen is a perennial problem. Is it soup, beans, plum tomatoes or rice pudding I'm about to open? Many a mistake led to interesting meals in my entirely blind family growing up.
Now simply hold the item up to Alexa, ask her what it is, and she'll oblige with the answer - as we see in this video.

Available for US users only at this stage, let's hope it's quick at coming to an Echo Show near us soon. If other excellent features first rolled out in the US alone are anything to go by, it won't be long before it's here in the UK and other English-speaking countries too. Other countries? Well, Alexa now supports many more languages so here's hoping...

Recognising objects on the go

So now it's possible to have your groceries identified with the help of your Echo, but what about when you're out and about? It would be good to have similar smarts handy when you're buying those same groceries in the supermarket. Thankfully, in a world full of objects to identify, signs to follow, words to read, information to process and people to recognise, having tech that can help is a life-changing advance that has become a reality in recent years.

With a smartphone and free apps such as Microsoft's Seeing AI, similar smarts are available on the go.

It's a time of truly empowering tech in which we live. To top it off, all we now need is some affordable smart glasses with which to watch the world on our behalf. A camera housed within such a gadget is far preferable to having to hold our phones out to analyse what's around us, so let's hope they're on their way (Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google - I'm looking at you).