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I had the pleasure of attending my first M-Enabling Summit in Washington, DC earlier this week. The Summit aims to set a unique stage for identifying emerging opportunities, technological developments, and future innovations for accessible and assistive mobile applications and services. The Opening Session and Keynote at this year’s M-Enabling Summit focused on many fascinating technologies and new developing ways to interact with customers and product users. Technologies such as 3D printers, cloud-powered devices, driverless cars and facial, gesture and speech recognition offer new features, capabilities, one-off customizations and interactions that can assist user’s with disabilities.

Peter Korn, Accessibility Architect with Amazon Lab126, was one of the many panelists.  He focused on three main areas:

  • Small devices with low-powered chips that make automated functions such as home controls and light switches more accessible.
  • Low Cost Devices without Screens.  Devices such as the Amazon Echo (demo’d at booth) that interact with a user controlling the device with speech.
  • Powerful Devices matted with the cloud.  What makes many of these devices so exciting is their ability to connect and interact with other web enabled systems and devices.

Beyond Echo, three additional product examples from Amazon were discussed:

  • “Dash” allows spoken or scanned items to quickly be added to a shopping list.
  • “Mayday” provides Kindle Fire user’s quick personal help directly on their device & is apparently the preferred method to seek assistance and interact in many ways.
  • “Firefly” allows a user to identify real-world items (examples offered: a book, bottle of wine, a barcode or perhaps a box of Dristan or other medicine) by simply scanning with a tablet or phone.

Several participating panelist from Intel, CEA, Amazon, FCC, Microsoft, Comcast, Google, Sprint and AT&T demonstrated what an exciting time it is for Accessible Technology development and focus.