Google 'Action Blocks' Empowers People With Cognitive Impairments to Live More Independently
On Google's Action Blocks, each Assistant command is customised as an image, the ‘Action Block icon’, and with one tap, it triggers the corresponding command.
Image for Representation (Source: Google)
For the 630 million people worldwide with cognitive disabilities, Google has come out with ‘Action Blocks’, a new tool that enables users, and their caregivers, to add Google Assistant commands to the home screen of their Android smartphones or tablets. Google said in a blog post dated October 2 that it had been working on a service that can pair its AI Voice Assistant and Android together to simplify day-to-day tasks for people with cognitive impairments.
How this works, is that each Google Assistant command is represented by a custom image, called the ‘Action Block icon’, and with one tap, it triggers the corresponding command. So, one can configure these action blocks to do anything that the Google Assistant is programmed to do, for example, book a cab, call a friend, make doctor's appointments, set alarms or reminders, order food, book tickets, make online payments or play music. All actions that could potentially help a cognitively impaired person live more independently.
Google’s Action Blocks is not dissimilar to the Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) which allows children on the autism spectrum to communicate using pictures. With Action Blocks, users can not only communicate but also control Google Assistant functions. While the product is still in the testing phase, Google has requested caregivers or family members of people with cognitive disabilities to register with their Trusted Tester program.
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