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Podcast With A Blindness Perspective.

Jul 29, 2019

Peter Korn, Director of Accessibility at Amazon’s Lab 126, Gives Us a Demo on the Alexa equipped Microwave Oven. Peter also goes over the brand new Echo Show 5 which comes with a 5 inch diaganol screen and Voice View built screen reading capabilities as well as Alexa all in one.

Full Transcript Below

Peter gives us an overview of the Amazon Fire TV Addition Toshiba Smart TV’s now available in 20 different models starting at 24 inches with a HD Screen for $150 and up to a 55 inch, 4K Ultra HD Screen and Dolby for only $450. Yes, the Toshiba comes with Amazon Fire TV technology, Voice View and Magnification Built-In to the Amazon Fire TV Addition TV right out of the box.

Peter also goes over the Fire Tablets and the Braille support features as well as the newest feature called Hands Free Alexa. 

Join Peter Korn and Simon Bonenfant as they make some popcorn using Alexa commands and talk Amazon devices.

You can find out more about all the Amazon devices on the web at www.Amazon.com

*****

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Full Transcript

 

While Popping Popcorn with Alexa, Peter Korn and Simon Bonenfant Talk Echo Show 5, Amazon Fire TV Addition Toshiba TVs and the Affordable Fire Tablets with Braille Support. #NFB19

 

Jeff Thompson:
Welcome to Blind Abilities. Here's our teen correspondent, Simon Bonenfant.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Hello, everyone on Blind Abilities. This is Simon Bonenfant reporting from Las Vegas, Nevada at the 2019 National Federation of the Blind National Convention. I'm in the Exhibit Hall today, and I'm at the Amazon area here. I got a chance to talk to Peter Korn. How's it going, Peter?

 

Peter Korn:
It's going very well. It's wonderful to be here at the NFB Convention in Las Vegas.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
That's great. Can you explain to the listeners your title and a little bit about what you do at Amazon?

 

Peter Korn:
Sure. This is my sixth year with Amazon. I'm the director of accessibility for all of our devices, and this is my 28th year in the field of accessibility, having cut my teeth on the outSPOKEN screen reader for Macintosh and Windows back in the mid-nineties.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Wow. So you have a lot of good accessibility knowledge. That's great. But what kind of features does Amazon offer for accessibility?

 

Peter Korn:
Well, every device that we make has a host of accessibility features built in. We're standing right now in front of a Toshiba television, but this isn't just any Toshiba television, this is the Amazon Fire TV addition television. So it's got all of our Fire TV technology built into it. That means it has the VoiceView screen reader built in. It has our Magnifier built in. It has Alexa built in.

 

Peter Korn:
Being a streaming television, it also means that I can stream Prime Video, and we have nearly 600 Prime Video titles with audio description. That includes every Amazon original title that we make, plus many things from Warner Brothers and so on.

 

Peter Korn:
You can also watch Netflix or Hulu or Showtime or HBO on this television. And it's a television, so you can plug in an antenna and you can get over the air broadcast TV. If you're in one of the 60 major metropolitan areas, you can even get one of the few hours of audio described broadcast TV and enjoy that with description on this television.

 

Peter Korn:
This is the 50-inch model. We have 20 different models, starting at 24 inches and an HD screen for 150 bucks, all the way up to a 55 inch, 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision model for $450.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Very cool. You have some Alexa enabled devices as well?

 

Peter Korn:
If we come around this way, the newest of our Echo devices, this is the new Echo Show 5. The Show 5 is one of our Echo devices with a screen. It's a five-inch diagonal screen. It's got Amazon Alexa in it. Everything you can do with any other Alexa device, you can do with this one. Plus, if you want... You're sighted. You like the idea of having a little clock by your nightstand. This is the perfect size to display a nice big clock.

 

Peter Korn:
It has a screen, which means it has VoiceView and it has our Magnifier, because we don't make screens and expect that people can use them if they don't have a screen reader on them.

 

Peter Korn:
So I accidentally unplugged it as I pulled it forward. It's plugged back in and it's finishing booting up. It finished booting up and that's the VoiceView turning on sound that we've just heard.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Very nice.

 

Peter Korn:
It's still finishing its boot up here. Once it's finished booting up, I'm going to ask it to do some stuff.

 

Peter Korn:
I also have right next to it-

 

Alexa:
VoiceView ready. 2:08 PM.

 

Peter Korn:
... Yes, dear. I have the Amazon Basics Alexa enabled microwave.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Yeah, I saw that yesterday. That was pretty cool. Yeah, talk about a little about that for us.

 

Peter Korn:
Yeah. So this is $59.99 microwave will pair with Alexa, and I can use my voice to cook. So I'm going to take this little bag of Skinny Girl popcorn, pop it into the microwave, and then say, "Alexa, microwave one ounce of popcorn,"

 

Alexa:
Starting popcorn. One Minute, eight seconds.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Wow.

 

Peter Korn:
And there she goes.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
And I can-

 

Peter Korn:
And in little under a minute, we're going to have some hot buttered popcorn.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
... I can kind of hear it and I can kind of smell it too. It's kind of cooking.

 

Peter Korn:
It is.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Wow. That is really neat. Yeah.

 

Peter Korn:
Some of the newer, well for many years now, microwaves have had the ability to do fairly complex things like defrost a pound and a half of chicken.

 

Peter Korn:
I do this many minutes at this low power setting, and then bring up the power for a few more minutes, and bring up the power again for the last few minutes, right? That little programming there. But typing all of that in on the touch panel is really difficult, but you can just use your voice-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
And Alexa figures out the settings and the modes it needs.

 

Peter Korn:
... Exactly. So you can reheat your dinner, you can pop popcorn, you can say, "This much ground beef to defrost."

 

Simon Bonenfant:
And it does it. Wow.

 

Peter Korn:
And it just does it. And-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Really cool.

 

Peter Korn:
... Well-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
And there it is.

 

Peter Korn:
... There's my popcorn.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Look at that. Wow. That's really cool.

 

Peter Korn:
Just open it up here. It's nice and smoking hot.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
It is. Wow. I can feel that. I smell it too. Wow, that's cool.

 

Peter Korn:
If you want some hot popcorn, reach on in.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
I'll try a little bit. Wow.

 

Peter Korn:
And there you go.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
I also noticed yesterday, I was over here and you had some tablets. Talk about them a little bit.

 

Peter Korn:
These are the Fire tablets. We've got the seven-inch model for $49.99. Has VoiceView, has our Magnifier, has large print. You can watch movies, you can read Kindle books, you can play audio books.

 

Peter Korn:
New this year, we have what's called hands-free Alexa, where there's a special chip in this tablet that allows it to be mostly asleep, but just quietly listening with a little bit of power for the wake word. And when you say it, she then responds.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
That's cool.

 

Peter Korn:
And that's again $49. It also has very powerful Braille support-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Wow.

 

Peter Korn:
... built in. We've been doing a lot to make a very efficient Braille interface. These Braille displays are fairly expensive. And you pay maybe a few hundred, maybe $700 for a 20-cell display. But for the most part, they're into the thousands of dollars.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Yeah, that's true.

 

Peter Korn:
So those cells are really precious. So you don't want to waste a ton of space saying, "Checkbox checked," and then the name of the checkbox. That's already off the end of your 20-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Right. Yeah, yeah.

 

Peter Korn:
... Right? So we use special non-character Braille glyphs to tell you that it's a checked checkbox. We have-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
So it's not going to take up cells.

 

Peter Korn:
... It's going to take up three cells.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Okay.

 

Peter Korn:
To say this-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
So it's a lot less. Wow. Okay.

 

Peter Korn:
... Exactly.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
That's great. So you're getting more Braille for your space. You're optimizing the space and the Braille.

 

Peter Korn:
Now at the same time, you've probably seen a lot of these tablets. You have a row of icons right on the home screen. And you focus one icon at a time and you put one icon's worth of text on the Braille display.

 

Peter Korn:
Well, if it's Kindle, that's six letters. You still have another 14 characters on that display that you're not using. So we will create a line of multiple things on the same row. Though the same idea, we use as many of those precious cells as we can to make a more efficient interface, where the bottom of the screen, you've got back, home, and app switcher. B-A-C-K, space, H-O-M-E, space, A-P-P, and then the rest of it is off the end.

 

Peter Korn:
I've got touch cursors over each cell. So when I navigate down to back, home, app switcher, I can just touch the button over, back or home-

 

Simon Bonenfant:
And it'll do it.

 

Peter Korn:
... and it'll do it. I don't have to navigate through all three. I'm more efficient. I'm more productive.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Yeah, that is. Wow.

 

Peter Korn:
So that's some of the innovation that's in VoiceView Braille available on all three tablets starting at 49 bucks.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
Wow. That's available right now.

 

Peter Korn:
Available right now. You can go to the Amazon store in the sky from your browser or from your iPhone, from your whatever, and order it. Well, fantastic. Thank you so much for coming by. Is there anything else I can help you with?

 

Simon Bonenfant:
No, that's all for me. That's all for you. We're good. So thank you, Peter, for talking with me today. Thank you for talking to the listeners of the Blind Abilities podcast.

 

Simon Bonenfant:
I'm very grateful for the work that you're doing at Amazon. You're doing a lot of good work for the community, the blindness community. And a lot of good things are coming because of your vast knowledge of accessibility and your drive to make things work well. I appreciate the work you do.

 

Peter Korn:
It's just an utter pleasure to be in this field and to be at a company like Amazon that can have such a huge impact on the lives of our customers with disabilities.

 

Jeff Thompson:
Thank you, Peter Korn. And thank you, Simon Bonenfant. Be sure to check out all of our 2019 Convention coverage right here on Blind Abilities.

 

Jeff Thompson:
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Jeff Thompson:
You can download the Blind Abilities podcast on to your Victor Stream, on to any of your podcatcher of choice. Downcast, Overcast, the Apple Podcast app in your iDevice. TuneIn radio, IHeartRadio. If you've got Siri, you've got Google, you've got Amazon, then you've got Blind Abilities.

 

Jeff Thompson:
Most importantly, I want to thank you, the listener. I want to thank you for listening. Hope you enjoyed, and until next time, bye-bye.

 

[Music]  [Transition noise]  -When we share

-What we see

-Through each other's eyes...

 

[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison, to form a single sentence]

 

...We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.

 

Jeff Thompson:

For more podcasts with the blindness perspective:

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Thanks for listening.