The best voice assistants for visually impaired people

Text by Reddit user Blind Insider

Nowadays, technological breakthroughs developed using artificial intelligence allow more people to communicate, perform searches, daily tasks and create their own routines by pressing a button or giving instructions using the voice assistants we will discuss herein.

Let us start by defining what a voice assistant is.

Voice assistants are computer programs or software packages whose programming language, based on artificial intelligence, recognize our voice and learn about our preferences through Machine Learning to help us better search for music, information, control other intelligent devices, create personal databases, routines etc.

The software is installed on tablets, smartphones, speakers and smartwatches, among others.

These are also known as virtual assistants and since their onset in 2014, they have become great allies for all those who want to make life easier. People living with a visual disability are benefiting from these assistants too because one of their great advantages is that they can connect with other devices at home or electronic devices such as microwave ovens,  refrigerators, televisions and even lamps.

Voice assistants can help users know the time in other countries, the weather, their medical status, traffic, how to get to a certain place and even make electronic-banking transactions.

The top three leading voice assistants in the market are: Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.

The first was developed by Amazon while Siri was created by Apple.

Now let's talk about each one of them. Let us begin with Google Assistant:

This assistant was launched in 2016 but it was incorporated into all Android devices until 2017 and now it is also available for iOS.

Google Assistant, along with Nest or Home speakers and displays, can perform the following functions:

Voice control of over 50,000 smart devices linked to the App such as outlets, lamps and smart thermostats.

Voice-activated calls and messaging or making video calls when both parties set the Google duo option.

Playing music and multimedia content such as podcasts and movies as well as being able to adjust the volume of the speakers.

Spending a fun afternoon with Google Assistant asking it to tell you jokes or interacting with different types of games.

Creating tasks, events, reminders and following up on important things and lists and asking the assistant to remind you of these on a specific date and time.

The above are just some of the things you can do with this virtual assistant. For more information about the features, operation and configurations please click on the following link:

Now let's talk about Siri, the assistant created by Apple which links to all the company's devices. Siri has features such as:

By saying: "Hey Siri", you can send messages, create reminders and even ask where you parked without having to press any buttons and without touching a computer.

When linked to CarPlay, you can drive safely and ask for directions, make phone calls and send messages without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes from the road.

Linked to its Health App you can start creating exercise routines and set goals. Siri is also able to update and track your medical indicators.

You can also set timers when you're cooking, quickly convert to different amounts and units of measurement and call your family using Apple's HomePod.

It also offers options for you to rest, such as setting alarms, turning off or dimming the lights in your bedroom and programming relaxing music.

Finally, Siri is able to learn your preferences without jeopardizing your privacy since whatever you ask Siri is not associated in any way with advertisers nor is it shared outside Apple devices.

This virtual assistant has many more characteristics and features. If you want to learn more please visit the following link:

Finally, let's talk about Alexa. This device was created by Amazon to make people's lives easier. This assistant can help you with the following:

Improving your productivity by creating tasks, shopping lists, reminders, alarms, calendar events and routines.

Alexa allows you to track your orders, know the best deals, compare prices and products and ask it to add things to your virtual cart.

Alexa can link you to other smart devices to create a much safer home. You can ask it to turn lights on or off, turn on alarms, allow you to see cameras, or close all your doors.

Through the App you can also configure skills for Alexa to learn more about your preferences and show you things you might like such as games, news, television programs, workout routines, pets, food, health etc.

Alexa will allow you to configure entertainment for the whole family and supervise what your children are searching for, watching and listening to on the device.

To know the full range of possibilities offered by Alexa click here:

Now, after learning about the main characteristics and features of these voice assistants, let us talk about which is the best rated and what are their disadvantages.

Since the onset of these devices, several tests have been done requesting information and tasks from them and  so far, Alexa has beat all other assistants in response speed, search for accurate information and multiple functionalities.

Siri comes in second place and the most limited software is Google Assistant.

In terms of value for money, Siri is the most expensive and to get access to it you need to have an Apple device. Google Assistant can be found on any Android device and you can purchase an Alexa device for different prices depending on its characteristics from Amazon.

Although all three have better scores in certain aspects compared to the others, the truth is that even with their limitations they all help people with their daily tasks.

Finally, the two main disadvantages of the three assistants are:

In order for you to have full access to all their features you need to connect them to other linked devices which might be expensive.

One may lose his or her privacy and become subject to identity theft. This is something that most users should be concerned about, since these virtual assistants gather one's information and preferences and although the three companies have repeatedly stated that the information from the devices is not shared, many people are concerned that this is not true. Furthermore, people worry that at some point their data might get stolen and they will be at risk of scams or frauds.

I hope that the information above gave you a better idea of how voice assistants make our lives easier so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Today's technological breakthroughs must be taken advantage of because that is what they were designed for.

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