Tech-enthusiast Roger Wilson-Hind talks about RealSAM Pocket: a nifty device on par with the Amazon Echo and Google Home, that you can take wherever you go.
As a child growing up in the 1940s, I’ve seen a lot of change in fashion, music and food, but above of all technology.
The mobile phone and internet have changed the way we interact and socialise. So much of what we do is online or using a device. In fact, we have very little choice but to do the majority of things online, like contacting friends and knowing where you are as you travel.
"With such a reliance on technology, it can be really frustrating for blind and partially sighted people if gadgets and devices simply aren’t up to scratch. Touch screens and trying to navigate huge amounts of text on a small screen can be a nightmare.
Companies are becoming more aware of including blind and partially sighted people in their designs, but a lot more still needs to be done. Amazon Echo and Google Home are brilliant – without pressing a button you can hear countless songs and update your events calendar. The trouble is you can’t take these out and about with you. That’s where Pocket comes in.
I recently attended an event at the O2 Store of the Future in London. The star of the show was the second generation RealSAM Pocket device, brought to the market by RNIB, O2 and Australian start-up, RealSAM. It’s like having an Amazon Echo or Google Home in your hand, except it’s designed specifically for blind users. In the past, screen reader software aimed to make everything speak or display in large print, often rendering something almost impossible to read.
Pocket listens to your voice and does everything for you, it’s so much more than just a phone. You press a button and use voice commands such as: “Play the Archers”, “Call my daughter” or, “Read War and Peace”. Within seconds you can hear whatever you want.
You don’t have to look at the screen, touch the screen, make gestures with your finger, enter passwords or experience the usual frustrations mobile devices bring. There are three buttons at the bottom of the device, but you can click on any before you speak. There’s also a lanyard so you can hang the phone around your neck safely when walking and there’s a protective rim around the phone.
I now have everything in one place; a phone, podcasts and travel information at home or on the move. RNIB Newsagent also comes preinstalled with over 200 titles, including daily and weekend papers, magazines and the Talking Books catalogue. All of that in the palm of your hand, so there’s no need to carry multiple devices with you.
"I used to find downloading and upgrading new software really difficult, but this is all done automatically. Pocket does the donkeywork, all I have to do is speak, listen, relax and focus on the content, not the technology.
RealSAM Pocket makes me feel safe. There’s an inset button on the back which you can press in emergency for help. You can also set a chosen friend or family member to reach out to in an emergency. When you press the button, your friend receives a call and can see on a map precisely where you are and how to get to you.
To find out more, visit the RealSAM website or by calling the dedicated helpline on 01733 514612.