Monday, 30 May 2016

Talking Tech for May 31 2016

Google iO 2016


The Google developers conference held in May had some exciting announcements.  The major item announced was Google Home which Google describes as:

Google Home is a voice-activated home product that allows you and your family to get answers from Google, stream music, and manage everyday tasks.

It takes what the Amazon Echo, Siri or Cortana can do, and extends the functionality of “Ok Google” almost in to the realms of science fiction.  If you have ever watched the film “Her”, besides the idiotic adult themes in the movie, the rest of what the AI can do sounds very much like Google Home.

If you want to sign up to be notified of developments in Google Home, use the following link:

Here is hoping that unlike the Amazon Echo, that Google Home is available outside of the US.


You can also watch most of the workshops  from Google IO (including 3 on accessibility) through the following link: 

Purchase’s to Add to My Connected Home

In the month of May 2016, I purchased several gadgets to extend my Connected Home a bit more.  In particular, I wanted to play with a device that has Home Kit enabled so that I could check its state using Siri, so I decided to purchase the Elgato Room and weather sensors.


Withings Body Analyser and Scales


Flat screen scales which gives you visually on it’s screen your weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and heart beat.  Whilst this part of the scales is not accessible, the app which gets data from the scales is mostly accessible: i.e. the Withings app which can be used on iOS or Android: Health Mate.


Withings Blood Pressure Monitor


After setup, just put the Blood Pressure cuff  around your arm, press start on the Withings app, and receive your blood pressure in less than 1 minute.  Easy to put the device on and use.


Elgato Room and Weather Sensors


Relatively easy to setup and use with the Eve app.

The sensors are Home Kit enabled so that you can ask Siri to get the current indoor or outdoor temperature and humidity.

Whilst they work, I find using them with Siri is very sluggish, Siri sometimes gets confused about what you said and does a web search instead. The indoor and outdoor sensors don’t seem to be as accurate as other weather sensors I have tried.

I’d recommend my Netatmo Urban Weather Station for two main reasons over Elgato Eve: the Netatmo Urban Station is Wi-Fi based and secondly can be used on iOs or Android, not tied to Home Kit.


VA Connect for Android and iOS Podcasts


A basic introduction to the Vision Australia Connect apps for Android and iOS to access the Vision Australia I-Access service.


VA Connect Android demo: 


VA Connect iOS demo: 

VoiceView Preview Now Available for Amazon Fire TV


Just note, as far as I know, you can’t officially use Fire TV in Australia.


Are is some info from Amazon past on to me re the Fire TV and their new screen reader.


Today, we’re announcing that we are bring our VoiceView screen reader to Amazon Fire TV. Rolling out today and over this week via a free over-the-air software update to Fire TV customers, this Preview edition of our VoiceView screen reader is part of a larger initiative we’re working on to make Fire TV more accessible to our visual impaired customers.

The VoiceView Preview works by reading on-screen text out loud as you navigate Amazon Video content, menus, and settings on your Fire TV. VoiceView provides enhanced navigation to on-screen content, presenting the rich interface in a fashion that doesn’t depending on the visual layout. You can use the keys on your remote's directional key pad to highlight and hear all available text and information on-screen. 

You can turn on VoiceView by holding down the "Back" and "Menu" buttons on your Fire TV remote at the same time for two seconds. The “Back” and “Menu” buttons are the left and right buttons in the top row of three small buttons.  You will hear "VoiceView Ready" when the feature is enabled and ready to use. The first time you start VoiceView, you will be invited to take a tutorial teaching you the VoiceView commands, as well as helping you learn all of the buttons on your remote.  Also, the first time you encounter significant screens in the Fire TV interface, you will receive a description of that screen, which you can hear again by pressing the Menu button.

Here are some ways to use VoiceView: 

·         Playback Controls – If you press a playback control button (Play/Pause, Rewind/Skip Back, Fast-Forward/Skip Forward) on your remote while an Amazon Video title is playing, VoiceView will tell you which button you've selected. 

·         Double-press the "Menu" button to access additional playback options, including "Watch from Beginning," captions, and "Next Episode" (for TV shows).

·         When your on-screen keyboard is open, VoiceView will read out each character as you move focus to it.

Over the coming months we will be listening to customer feedback and looking at ways to expand VoiceView capabilities. Feel free to try out the feature and please let us know what you think.



Top Ten Gadgets


This is a list of the gadgets that I use all the time at home.


Apple TV,

Apple watch,

Airplay Speakers,


Netatmo Urban Weather Station,

Ring Video Doorbell,

Wahoo Heart Beat Monitor,

Withings Body Analyser and Scales,

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, and

WeMo switch’s.

1 comment:

  1. I purchased two fire tv sticks on Monday when I heard that they were becoming accessible; only reason is that Amazon still doesn't have an instant video app for the Apple TV, and because I have Amazon prime, I'd like to take more full advantage of that and watch videos from time to time. Anyway, after some preliminary struggles, I got the fire stick connected to my primary TV to update and start using Voice View. Unfortunately, the second fire stick refuses to update, so it is not possible to activate Voice View on it at this time. According to the amazon representative I spoke to most recently, the update is rolling out over time; there is no way to force it, and there's no way of knowing when my second device will receive the update. This is frustrating, but I figure that I can just start checking a couple of times a week to see if Voice View can be activated on my bedroom TV. I just figured I'd share this in case anyone else purchases a new fire tv device based on your post and has trouble getting it up and talking.


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