Las Vegas, January 6, 2021: When we think of smart TV’s we think of the ability for the device to receive FTA broadcast and stream content from around the world; a tool for us to socialise and shop with; a device to interface wirelessly to other devices to use applications to look at photos, documents or enable a zoom meeting or an arena for interactive game playing. Smart TV’s can do all that, but Samsung super smart TV’s do more…
I’m genuinely excited about the features Samsung announced this week ahead of the virtual CES. All of its 2020 QLED and Neo QLED models will come with new features that help people with vision or hearing disabilities.
When I attended the 2014 CES, I was moved by the glasses that could read brainwaves to help the almost totally immobilised (think Butterfly Effect movie) to communicate by thinking a letter. The glasses enabled the person to communicate by spelling out words as they thought of them. The new features on Samsung TV’s will allow blind and partially sighted people to use the whole of their smart TV independently.
The accessibility features are not new to Samsung smart TVs and you can view a full list of the features here. With Voice Guide, the television reads on-screen text back to you eg. Text in the Electronic Program Guide, giving verbal feedback about the selected volume, current channel and program information. The viewer can adjust the pitch and tone of the Voice Guide to suit their preferences.
Samsung’s features will enable their TV’s to recognise hand signals to turn on the TV. Viewers can zoom in on sign language to enlarge it so it can be seen better. For most of us, the person presenting a news presentation eg. bushfire briefing, is the focus of attention, but for the hearing impaired the signer is of greater importance, so being able to enlarge this element on the screen is a great advantage.
By inverting the colours on the menu options, Samsung has made options easier to see by people with low vision. The viewer can reposition captions on the screen so other text isn’t blocked and people who are colour blind will welcome the SeeColours feature. Other features like high contrast, magnification and grayscale make it easier for people with low vision to see the picture.
The Learn The Remote feature makes it easier to learn how to use the remote as it talks the remote user through the buttons and their related actions.
‘Samsung has committed to expanding its Voice Guide feature, which provides audio guidance for people with low vision, to cover 28 languages by 2022. And it’s working on new AI-based features to improve accessibility on its TVs.
According to JH Han, President of Samsung’s virtual display business, Samsung has also developed a sign language avatar to guide users through all the functions of Samsung TVs, and it’s planning to add automatic closed captions to convert sounds into text.’ Shara Tibken, Reporting from CES
For the 2.2 billion vision-impaired people around the world (WHO estimate) and the (US) National Institutes of Health estimates around 15% of American adults report some hearing difficulties. For this audience, escaping to the TV to endure a pandemic lockdown will be a more appealing option with these features which offer a much-improved experience of TV.
For content creators and publishers, the smart TV opens a world of opportunity to engage, communicate and entertain a niche audience sector that I expect will be extremely receptive to content with or for them in mind.