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Amazon Alexa's Show and Tell Can Identify Groceries for People Who are Blind, Have Low Vision

Oct 23, 2019

Amazon has a product called Echo Show that has a powerful accessibility feature for those who are blind, have low vision, or would otherwise benefit from product identification.

By asking your Echo Show, "Alexa, what am I holding?," Alexa will help identify the item.

This new feature, Show and Tell, works by using a combination of computer vision and machine learning systems in order to recognize objects.

Stacie Grijalva, who lost her sight at 41, said, "It’s a tremendous help and a huge time saver because the Echo Show just sits on my counter, and I don’t have to go and find another tool or person to help me identify something. I can do it on my own by just asking Alexa."

Grijalva is the Technology Manager and Outreach Coordinator at Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, according to Vista Center's contact page. Grijalva was a collaborator in the development of Show and Tell, identifying customers who are blind or have low vision for user studies and providing feedback to Amazon.

Alexa already had features to help around the house. The voice service can do things like change the television channel, turn lights and appliances off and on, read audiobooks, and provide audio instructions for Amazon devices. Now, it can also identify certain grocery and pantry items to help with cooking and managing groceries.

“The whole idea for Show and Tell came about from feedback from blind and low vision customers,” said head of Amazon's Alexa for Everyone team, Sarah Caplener. “We heard that product identification can be a challenge and something customers wanted Alexa’s help with. Whether a customer is sorting through a bag of groceries, or trying to determine what item was left out on the counter, we want to make those moments simpler by helping identify these items and giving customers the information they need in that moment.”

Advancements that use technology to make it easier to independently take care of everyday tasks are the rapid growth of the assistive technology market. For more information on assistive technology, check out:

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