Like so many people with a degenerative eye condition, I spent many years, and many hundreds of pounds, on increasingly elaborate reading aids until, about a decade ago, I had to admit defeat and give up reading visually. First to go was newsprint, followed a year so later by standard
In his latest article, find out how Red is using his Pocket to fill his weekends in lockdown! ”It’s Saturday as I write this; the week’s work is done and under the terms of my New Year’s resolution (which so far is holding strong) I am resisting the temptation to
RealThing Ai, the Melbourne-based technology developer that owns the RealSAM UK brand, has been awarded $1m of funding by the Australian Government to accelerate its growth in developing Artificial Intelligence solutions for Blind and partially sighted people, worldwide.
RealThing Ai has developed a unique human dialogue and intelligent reasoning product, called RealSAM, for people living with low vision and blindness. It is delivered exclusively through voice activation, and used to control every day technology such as mobile phones and smart speakers. RealThing has partnered with leading sight loss organisations including Vision Australia, the US Library of Congress National Library Service, and the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People.
Australian Federal Government Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world and the Government was pleased to help scale-up their ideas.
“The Accelerating Commercialisation grants are all about investing in the growth of great Australian business ideas that will ultimately change our lives for the better,” Minister Andrews said.
“Not only do these business ideas strengthen our economy, they are examples of Australian ingenuity helping make the world a better place.”
RealThing’s RealSAM platform and voice interface has changed the lives of vision impaired users around the world. The funding will be used to further their solution and create a world first – installing the AI onto a mobile phone, so it can operate untethered to the internet. This will overcome the shortcomings of other assistants such as Apple’s Siri, which can only operate when connected to the cloud.
Commenting on receiving the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant, RealThing Ai CEO Nick Howden said:
“We are thrilled to be recognised by the Australian Government as recipients of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. This funding will lead to significant creation of jobs in the high value areas of Artificial Intelligence and MedTech, while, most importantly, improving the quality of life of people living with sight loss”.
About RealThing Ai
Founded in Melbourne, Australia, RealThing Ai is a global business specialising in accessible AI technology. RealThing AI technology is powered by voice, making complex technology products accessible to anyone with visual impairments or sight loss. Users who are blind or have little vision are given the ability to search for audio books from a variety of libraries, talking newspaper collections, podcasts, talking magazines and radio stations using a voice activated smartphone or smart speaker.
The business was established in 2008, with the founding partners’ background in developing smart tech for defence, aviation and research.
About the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant
Accelerating Commercialisation is part of the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme, which has provided 519 grants worth $251 million to Australian businesses since its establishment in 2014.
More information on the grant recipients is available at www.business.gov.au/ac-funding-offers
This week I celebrated having had Pocket in my life for a month. And it really was a celebration (well as much as we can in these restricted times!) I can genuinely say that, alongside my white cane, I have never had an aid to living with sight loss that
For a number of years now I have been hearing from other blind and visually impaired (BVI) people about the benefits of ‘Be My Eyes’. If you haven’t yet come across it, ‘Be My Eyes is a free app that connects BVI people with sighted volunteers who can provide visual
Whether you’re researching for yourself or a loved one, choosing the right mobile phone if you’re experiencing sight loss can seem like a challenging task. With a vast range of different brands and devices to choose from, with varying features and price points, it can be hard to know where
In his second Blog, RNIB Connect Radio presenter, Red Szell, explores how easy it is to access Radio Stations on In Your Pocket. And has found it very easy to tune in to his own show!
”Like a lot of people who received a new toy for Christmas, I’ve spent many happy hours getting to know my In Your Pocket (Pocket) device.
And as you might have guessed from last week’s blog, much of that time has been spent exploring the various libraries Pocket offers access to. So long as I know the author and / or title of the book I’m searching for, I’ve continued to find Pocket the quickest and easiest way to listen to Audiobooks.
Even when I have paused the book then returned sometime later, all I have needed to do is press the home button, say ‘find recent books’, and the book I was listening to is helpfully listed as the first suggestion. Moreover, Pocket has remembered my last listening position and I can get straight back into the book.
However RealSAM have asked me to do more than indulge my bookworm tendencies, and so I tore myself away from the libraries and decided to explore the radio waves instead.
It is a good idea to rehearse what you want to say to Pocket beforehand and keep your search terms as simple as you can. And if In Your Pocket can’t understand what you are looking for, it will repeat a little mantra:
‘It sounds like you are trying to search. To find news articles about speeding cars, use the phrase, find articles about speeding cars. Or to find podcasts about speeding cars, say find podcasts about speeding cars. Or to find books about speeding cars, say find books about speeding cars’
This initially threw me because I certainly hadn’t been looking for speeding cars, but it is a good reminder of how to phrase your search and to keep your instructions simple. And as always you can interrupt the voice by pressing the home button and giving your next instruction.
So I asked Pocket to ‘Find RNIB Connect Radio’. After a few seconds thought, the device gave me the following suggestion.
‘Say list radios or say listen to Radio BBC One, or say list radio stations from London, or to learn more please say user guide’
So I pressed home again and said ‘Listen to Connect Radio’ and had to smile when the result came back saying:
‘Listing stations to select from. First 5 of quite a few!’
The presence of idioms like this in In Your Pocket’s vocabulary makes the AI voice seem warmer and less artificial, and leaves me feeling less frustrated if my search doesn’t bear instant results. However in this case RNIB Connect Radio was the second suggestion on my list and I was able to tune into it with no problem.
I likewise found it easy to locate and listen to a range of other stations and was glad to find a huge selection of DAB and FM and even located BBC Radio 4 on Long Wave. I began exploring the airwaves to find out how well I could tune into broadcasts from around the country and jumped from Hartlepool to Cornwall with no problem, enjoying the local news and views from places I’ve heard of but never visited.
In fact I got so carried away that by the time I remembered that my favourite show on BBC Radio 4 was on, I’d already missed half of it. Oh well, I guess that means I will be finding out how to access podcasts on my Pocket for next week’s blog!”