TALKING TECH REVIEW: Smarter Homes for people living with sight loss

By Galloway’s Technology Coordinator, Andrew Coleman

The smart home is no longer the future it’s a reality. The rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home has paved the way for connected tech around the home. You don’t have to buy it all at once and it’s very much affordable. Most importantly, smart home technology is becoming increasingly more accessible to blind and partially sighted people. So what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to join the party.

Amazon All New Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Amazon all new echo dot

Many of us have invited Alexa into our lives and, it is by far, the most popular smart speaker on the market. It is versatile and fits almost anywhere. All you need is an active internet/WiFi Connection and a tablet/smart phone/PC and you’re good to go.

Just say, “Alexa, What’s the time?” or “Alexa, What’s the weather in Chorley?” and you will get the answer to your questions. It’s all about using your voice and once you learn the different commands you’ll be a pro. Use Alexa to play music and radio, read the news, communicate with friends, search the internet, control your smart home devices, play games and much more.

Initially you may need some sighted assistance to set up your Echo speaker, but once set up its pretty straight forward to use. I love the simplicity and range of features available. Most of all its accessibility sells itself to blind and partially sighted people. It’s very much designed around Amazon’s own systems with compatibility for Audible books and Amazon music streaming. If you would like to try the Amazon echo or any other Amazon smart home devices please get in touch with Galloway’s.

Google Home Mini

google home mini

Google controls a huge chunk of the smart home market with its range of smart home speakers. Google Home Mini is an excellent alternative to the Amazon Echo Dot and boasts similar features, just based around Google’s systems using services like Google Play Music. Just say “Ok Google” and ask any question you like, such as, “what’s the weather?”. You can also use it to hear the latest news, play music and radio, reminders and alarms, games and much more.

Google’s AI assistant is particularly good at answering internet based questions and web searches as it has access to Google’s search engine. You can also ask follow on questions such as “Ok Google how old is Tom Cruise?” You can then follow up by saying: “Ok Google what films did he star in?”

It works with the majority of smart home tech and is very easy to set up. Initially you may need some sighted assistance but once connected you’ll be able to utilise Google’s capability by using your voice. I love the wide range of features available and the ease of use. It’s a clever little speaker that certainly delivers a lot for a small price tag. Find out more by contacting Galloway’s.