Alexa, “What am I Holding?” – Amazon Show and Tell Feature

Amazon Show 2nd Gen

Alexa’s skills as offered in the Amazon Show or Echo devices continue to expand offering more and more including universal design services for the general public and individuals with disabilities. A recent email sharing “What’s New with Alexa?” featured the new Show and Tell skill supporting individuals with blindness and low vision. The Show and Tell feature is offered for all versions of the Echo Show devices (1st and 2nd generations) providing product recognition using its camera to identify and vocalize the product. Object recognition to support individuals with visual impairment and cognitive disabilities has been a high interest, and a need identified when evaluating client for their AT needs. While I have previously review apps with object or product recognition tools, this device as a stand alone tool was a new tool. So, this new feature offered on this ubiquitous home device piqued my attention as a possible AT solution for clients serviced. So can Alexa help with product recognition?

Amazon Show- Show and Tell Skill Operation

The Show and Tell skill of the Echo Show (1st and 2nd generation both have cameras), uses its camera to tell you want object you are holding. Asking Alexa, “What am I holding?” while holding a product about 1 foot away from the camera and positioned about 1 foot above the surface the Show is located. The Show and Tell provides verbal instructions on how to use it and then speaks the item name out loud to you. Quite slick.

How does Show and Tell work to identify products you’re holding? Here are the Amazon directions for asking Alexa to identify common pantry products your holding with Show and Tell:

Before you get started, make sure that there’s good lightning in your room and that nothing is blocking your Echo Show’s camera.

  1. Hold your item one foot from your Echo Show’s camera.
  2. Say things like, “What am I holding?” or “What’s in my hand?”
  3. When prompted, move your item around slowly to show different sides of the packaging. Alexa helps you position the item with tips and sound.

Of course, I had to trial product recognition with my Amazon Show (1st generation). At on set of the verbal command “Alexa, what am I holding?”, Alexa provided me with a brief but adequate instruction on how it works then promptly completed the recognition task. Sound feedback is provided when a camera shot is taken and prompts to turn it to another side to get more information. It was very simple and intuitive to use Show and Tell with initial trial.

Amazon Show – Show and Tell Trial

How did it work? I trialed 8 different products from my pantry including canned goods, jars of products and packages (snack bars, packet of rice, etc.). I used name brands and generic brand products. Alexa Show and Tell provided me with basic information with the generic products (grape jelly) while additional but basic information was provided with the name (e.g. Jiffy Crunchy Peanut butter) of the product presented. Alexa prompted me with verbal instructions to turn the item, lift it up for better recognition. It appeared that showing the front and the UPC scanning code (I suspect) was key additionally used to identify the item. As would be true when scanning any items, standard text of the product was most accurately recognized versus word art or cursive writing on the product. It accurately identified 8/8 items with a general description (“grape jelly” Nature Valley oatmeal bar, olive oil. Additional information of the product may be offered by Alexa. If help is needed, saying “Help with Show and Tell” or “More help with Show and Tell” can provide the user with additional information.

Amazon Show – Show and Tell as an AT Device

Although briefly trial with a few panty products, accuracy was good with basic information provided on what the product was. Although detailed information was not always provided, this would be a helpful tool for individuals with low vision or blindness to help them recognize products in their cupboards or refrigerator if marking were lost, items unmarked with the typical ID systems recommended. It was also easy to position the items in front of the 10″ Echo Show screen with Alexa verbalizing directions when needed to turn or reposition the item. A hack that might help would be to have a small low platform to place an object on with position set at 1 foot away with a rise that is even with the bottom of the Show device. this would take the guesswork away for individuals that may not be able to see the distance from the Show device or hold the item steady while it is detecting the label.

While I may not run out and get a Show just to recognize products, the Show offers many great services making it a worthwhile device for many tasks for the general population and individuals with disabilities. The Echo Show can easily be considered an AT device, offering many accessibility tools and services.

What do you need to set up an Amazon Show

Amazon Show Devices

The Amazon Show devices now come in a variety of models. Refurbished 1st generation models are available for about $99.99 for the 10″ model with 2nd generation refurbished under $200. Here are a few of the newer Amazon Show models and prices:

Amazon Show 5  

This model offers a 5.5″ screen with built-in camera shutter and microphone/camera off button.

Amazon Show 8

Amazon Show with 8″ screen with built-in camera shutter and microphone/camera on/off button and touch screen .

Amazon Show (2nd generation) offers a 10″ screen, built in camera shutter and microphone/camera on/off button and touch screen.

While these models offer product recognition, many other skills are available with Amazon Echo Show devices including reading books aloud, closed captioning, playing music with voiced requests, finding out news, weather, sports, making calls, talking reminders and timers, researching basic information on the Internet as well as automating home devices and services. The skills offered by Alexa on the Amazon Show continue to expand and are used by young and old to access information and control their  environment.

What skills do you or your clients use or are your favorite on the Amazon Show? Ask Alexa next time what her favorite skills (NASA and cats…?).

More for your OT eTool Kit.

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology

Posted in Accessibility, Activities of Daily Living, Adults, Aging in Place, Artificial Intelligence, Assistive Technology, Cognitive Impairment, Environmental Control, Home accessibility, iADL's, Intellectual Disability, Internet of Things, Low Vision/ Blindness, Object Recognition, Text to Speech, Universal Design, Visual Impairment | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

12 Favorite PC Shortkeys — Ask a Tech Teacher

Keyboard shortcuts are a fast and efficient way to get things done on your computer. Most of us are visual learners and use our mouse for these tasks but once you learn these shortcuts, they can help you get things done quickly. Check out Jacqui’s favorite shortcuts, learn at least one…

Here’s an update to my Favorite PC Shortkeys poster: Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice,…

via 12 Favorite PC Shortkeys — Ask a Tech Teacher

H/T to Jacqui for sharing computer tips!


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Assistive Technology for Kids who Experienced Trauma — Michigan Assistive Technology (AT) Program Blog

By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff I’m working on a trauma certificate and recently attended a symposium on Somatic Experience therapy for children who have experienced trauma. The presenter, Maggie Kline, LMFT, explained that for young children (birth to 18 months) who experience trauma, the body holds the memory and that therapy needs to focus…

via Assistive Technology for Kids who Experienced Trauma — Michigan Assistive Technology (AT) Program Blog’

This is an interesting post from the Michigan Assistive Technology Program Blog describing movement tools as AT for individuals with trauma in their history. It shares great information and also expands the concept of AT by including sensory equipment to support individuals with social and emotional disabilities.

Thanks to MATP for their informative post.


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Portable Reading Tool Options, Smartphone or Handheld Device – What’s Your Pick?

image of C-Pen reader and smartphone

C-Pen Reader or Smartphone?

A variety of portable reading tools are available with fairly good recognition and improved text to speech voices for quick access to print using text to speech.  While many individuals rely on their smartphones for accessing print with text to speech these days, for some it is not always the preferred solution.  A recent evaluation demonstrated use of apps on a smartphone, such as my favorite, on-demand Claro Scan Pen app for individuals with a learning disability, and the handheld C-Pen Reader upon requested. While this is an infrequent request, as it may be considered  “older technology”, it remains an preferred option for some clients. .

For this particular client, using the C-Pen was strongly preferred. The reason for the  clients preference included:

  • Reduced level of distractions when using the pen compared to the potential distractions of a smartphone’s messages, texts, alarms, phone calls or other alerts occurring (even with Airplane mode on)
  • Simplicity of use
  • Perception of others (classmates or instructors) when using a smartphone that use is for entertainment purposes.

Despite the somewhat lower text to speech quality, for some clients this lower tech tool continues to be their choice for listening to text read aloud from paper sources.  Interestingly, a number of clients recently serviced have been adamant about not using a smartphone to access print due it being perceived as entertainment rather than an assistive tool in work or educational environments.

While many options exist for accessing text to speech using portable devices such as  smartphones with scan and read apps other portable devices like the C-Pen remain a solution for accessing and reading text. Hang on to it, it may be the tool of choice for one of your clients!

What has been your experience or preferences of portable reading tools?

More for your AT Toolkit!

Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR, ATP, CATIS

Posted in Accessibility, Assistive Technology, Dyslexia, Learning Disability, Reading | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The NEBO EYE shared by Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

The folks at Easter Seals Crossroads shares another low tech AT tool for low vision clients or children as well as for older adults. Both low vision clients typically benefit from the right type of task lighting. Older adults over the age of 60-65 years and gradually experience visual changes in their eyes requiring brighter light levels. The AT specialists at Easter Seals Crossroads share out the NEBO Eye, a flexible, portable light that can be used for a variety of tasks, placed in a variety of positions and offers a bright and a milder or lower brightness level.

Check out the review by Easter Seals Crossroads on the NEBO Eye below.

Hey there! Welcome to Accessibility Minute, your weekly look at Assistive Technology, those clever tools and devices designed to help people who have difficulties with vision, mobility, hearing or other special needs! If you’re looking for a simple solution to light up a dining room table, closet, bathroom, desk, and more – check out the […]

via AM341 – NEBO EYE — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

H/T to Easterseals Crossroads for their AT curating!




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Visual or Vibrating Alert Devices — AT3 Center News & Tips

Ten gadgets to help you stay safe, on time, and informed with a hearing impairment

via Visual or Vibrating Alert Devices — AT3 Center News & Tips

Great list of suggested devices for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Reviewing the list there are also other individuals with or without a disability who might benefit also from some of these devices!

Thank you to AT3 Center for sharing their expertise!


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ATU422 – Morphic with Gregg Vanderheiden — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

Thanks to Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads for sharing information on Morphic in their regular blog posts. Morphic is a universal design for access in development for 10 year and is now coming to fruition! Truly a universal design technology tool offering accessibility tools and language translation capabilities for every computer.  To learn more, visit AT at Easter Seals Crossroads for more information about this exciting universal design tool or see the video and links to Morphic below.

Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Show Notes: Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden PhD – Director of the Trace R&D Center at the University of Maryland College Park More on Morphic:——————————If you have an…

via ATU422 – Morphic with Gregg Vanderheiden — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads


H/T to Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads for their curation of AT tools and resources!


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