Access Tech Live: Looking Back at 2023

Access Tech Live: Looking Back at 2023

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- [Announcer] Coming up on "Access Tech Live." - [Marc] We look back at 2023 in tech with Kelly MacDonald, Be My Eyes embraces friends and family, and looking ahead to CES. - [Announcer] This is "Access Tech Live" with Steven Scott and and Marc Aflalo. The latest in tech and accessibility every week.

Follow us and get involved now at "Access Tech Live." (upbeat music) - Welcome everybody to another "Access Tech Live." I am Steven Scott, Marc Aflalo is back with me as always. How you doing this week, Marc? - I'm doing so, I'm so excited Steven, and one of the reasons I'm excited is because on the shelf behind me, I have the rarest find I've ever found at a dollar store in Canada. And that is, I'm gonna reach behind me and grab this.

Steven Scott, this is your likeness in an elf. The only way I can describe this elf is that it is you in a little elf outfit with a Santa hat, and it's gonna be living on my shelf behind me for the entirety of this show to celebrate the holiday season. - Yeah, I don't really know how to respond to this because part of me feels like, okay, so my image has been clearly stolen and turned into some elf setup for Christmastime. Which is fine. Okay, I get that. But it's the fact that you found it at the dollar store.

I kind of hoped you'd find it at Nordstrom's or, you know, somewhere, you know, a bit more higher class, let's just say. No offense to the dollar store. I understand. But you know, this is my image I'm dealing with here, so I hope you understand- - I understand, Steven.

- how disappointed I am. - I understand, but there is no Nordstrom here in Montreal. So where I am, the dollar store is where we're gonna get it, okay? - (laughs) Okay.

Okay, well I'm expecting lots of that and also a cut of the profits, dollar store, if you're listening. So cool. Thank you for that Marc. This week we're looking back at 2023, we'll be highlighting what we think are some of the biggest stories of the year. Joining us today is the host of Kelly and Ramya.

Yes, one of them. That is Kelly MacDonald, and the Executive Director of the Consumer Technology Association Foundation Steve Ewell is here with us. But before we get to all that, let's get the latest headlines from Marc. - [Announcer] "Access Tech Live" headlines. - Apple is being forced to pull its Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 from its stores effective 3:00 PM today. The reason, well the company said this is to preemptively comply with an International Trade Commission import ban following a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo.

The dispute was first reported and confirmed earlier this week, having to do with the blood oxygen sensor, which the two watches have in common. Apple said, and I quote, "It strongly disagrees with the order." And, I quote, "Is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers."

It's unclear, as now, whether the import ban will stand. It has to undergo an actual presidential review period during which Joe Biden can actually have an opportunity to veto the ban. So if you're shopping for an Apple Watch this holiday season, you might want to get that in today.

TomTom, the vehicle navigation company, is teaming up with Microsoft to bring a fully integrated AI powered automotive assistant to vehicles. The company is best known for its GPS platforms and they partnered with Microsoft to develop this new assistant. The technology leverages OpenAI's large language models and Microsoft's cognitive services to make an assistant that draws from OpenAI's latest advancements. Now, TomTom is promising that the voice assistant will integrate into a variety of interfaces offered by major auto manufacturers and it will be compatible with multiple manufacturers, if you're worried about that.

TomTom will be previewing the AI at CES in Las Vegas in just about, what? Three weeks time. Really cool stuff. "Barbie" is still pushing boundaries. The movie continues to make headlines this week, thanks to a milestone in cinema accessibility. The epic movie's release on the Max streaming service has introduced American Sign Language. The special ASL edition of "Barbie" will add a sign language performer on the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Now, since it's a streaming first, there'll be a separate version of the movie entirely on the streaming service. You're gonna have to look for the ASL version not just an on and off switch like they do in traditional captions or audio description. Now, Casey Bloys is the CEO of HBO and Max, highlighted the importance of the feature particularly for the deaf community. Very, very cool stuff.

Be My Eyes has a new feature just in time for the holidays and the new year, called Be My Eyes Groups. The new feature gives individuals who are blind or have low vision to build their own custom network of people to help with everyday tasks. The new feature is available now and comes directly from user feedback in the Be My Eyes community. The feature lets you press a new Be My Eyes Groups button, which will connect you with the first available person in your own group, with up to 20 people that can actually be in that group.

You may just want to let them know ahead of time. Steven, Steven, am I in your group right now? I hope not. - No one's in my group yet. I have very few friends.

That's the only problem, you need friends to do this. But it's also about family as well, and it really is a great way and actually quite an ingenious way to do this. Because one of the things I love about Be My Eyes isn't just the ideas that they come up with, it's the integration of it as well. So in this particular case, you have the Family and Friends option, and what it allows you to do is, say for example you had 20 people in that group, when you make a call, all their devices will ring and it's whoever answers takes the call, right? Which is exactly how Be My Eyes works. So no longer do you have that situation where you want to get assistance from a friend or a family member. You know, it's maybe something very personal, like reading a bank statement or something and you don't necessarily want to go to a stranger.

You want to go to someone you can trust. You can actually do that and you know you'll get access to that right person. But it's not like you have to call, I'm gonna call Marc and then I'm gonna call Shaun, and then I'm gonna call someone else. You don't have to do those individual calls, it can all happen, you know, itself.

You just make the call and the person answers. So I've gotta say I love what Be My Eyes are doing, just in time for the holidays as well. Lots of people are gonna be getting presents and cards and things that they want to open up and read.

So yeah, absolutely fantastic. - I'll be your friend, Steven. You can add me. I'm okay with it. - Great, well thank you. I have one. Thank you. - There's one. - I kind of ride on you 'cause you're the only one, well, who can see. So let's go to our question of the day and the question of the day today is, what tech or tech trends are you looking forward to most in 2024? Do we have, do we exclude AI from that? Because everybody's talking about AI. - No, I don't think. No.

Come on, I think everybody. Listen, everybody will be talking about AI, everybody's gonna be talking about it. They have been talking about AI.

I think we'll be talking a lot of AI today, but no, I think we can leave AI in the conversation but how, you know, get unique about it. Try to kinda come up with something a little bit different and then we'll then maybe we'll talk about it later on the show. That'd be a fun part. And if you wanna get involved, here's how you can do it.

You can actually connect with us on all our social media platforms @ACCESSTECHLIVE. You can even email us if you want to. It's And you can get involved. It's very, very cool stuff. After a quick break, Steven, what were some of the biggest tech stories of 2023? Ah, we're gonna begin our look back with our guest, Kelly MacDonald, next, right here on "Access Tech Live." (bright music) - [Announcer] We want to hear from you.

Follow us on social media and get involved @accesstechlive. We'll be right back. (upbeat music) - [Announcer] The latest in tech and accessibility. This is "Access Tech Live" with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. - But this is how it sounded, so let's take a look.

- [Narrator] "I Love the Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh. It depicts the view from his asylum room at Saint-Remy-de-Provence just before sunrise. - But here's the preview of what's gonna come early next year. - [Narrator] "I Love the Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh.

It depicts the view from his asylum room at Saint-Remy-de-Provence just before sunrise. - That's Rahid Hassad, who's Amazon's Senior Vice President and Head Scientist for Artificial Intelligence at Amazon. Welcome back to "Access Tech Live." Kelly MacDonald is with us, the host of "Kelly and Ramya" weekday afternoons here on AMI-tv. Good to have you with us for the ride this week, Kelly.

- Good day, guys. Nice to be here. Thanks for the invite. And the show has sounded tremendous.

So congratulations to you. - Well, that is very kind. I think this is my highlight of 2023, is this show, to be perfectly honest. But AI, of course, was the bigger story, arguably of the year, arguably. The biggest story in tech, of course, of 2023 and likely to be the biggest and fastest growing industry in 2024.

It certainly was the case in '23 as well. Kelly, we chose that clip there from Amazon because Marc and I are sure you're really looking forward to what's coming up on Echo devices from Amazon. - You know, what I really love about all of this, and again, some people would say it's scary, fellas, is how much like human beings do we want these responses to be? Do we wanna forget, hey, this isn't a person, this is actually a robotic answer to an extent, maybe a human voice that we're using? Yes, traditionally. And we're sampling as we know we can do very little and then use that voice, whether it's to read a book or be a voice assistant. But how close do we want that to be? How much do we wanna forget? But there's nothing like having that realism. And as somebody who's read audio books all my life and had to deal with a screen reader most of my life on my computer, you look forward to that nuances, the sound, a little bit of feeling.

You do worry, how much does that give you that, well, this is what they're trying to tell me. This is how I'm supposed to understand how much of that natural direction comes. And I think we've had the conversations using AI to describe a picture. How are they learning to describe it? I mean, when I was a kid and had my dad read a book to me, he'd be very quick to say, oh man, this is a whole half page here of description. I'll just skip this. No, no, no, dad, I wanna hear it.

And I liked hearing the description. However, [Marc] Of course. would be written in a certain way. And I think one of the key things to figure out now is if you're, whether it's using Be My Eyes for description or anything using AI in any way, how is it telling you that? As a blind person, I may need description in a different way than that novel sounding, it's a big valley, the plants are lush. I might want to hear that there's a big valley on starting from left to right. There is this, there is that. There is a farm in the base of the valley.

Going up the right side. That is I'm anxious to see how AI can be changed like that to make those differences depending on the consumer. - Well, I think Kelly that this is where, the benefits of AI kind of fall into place here. The, at least the customizability of it to be able to say, I'm Kelly MacDonald. This is how I want things done for me. I'm Marc Aflalo.

This is how I want things done to me. Whether it's a natural sounding voice, a robotic sounding voice, the way in which audio description is the speed of the language. We've been able to customize these things till now. So I guess the question at the end of the day is will we be able to still customize those things and to what degree when it comes to these new digital personal assistants, right? - Yes, yes. And the importance, I mean, we used to think, especially those of us in the disability community when we had to pay extra price or something was an individual item for me to have to make it accessible.

Now we're seeing it in our iPhones, in our assistants that there is, when you go to a website, hey, click here if you need a screen reader assistance and to make it easier and customize it, as you said, Marc, for it to be read that way. So I'm assuming these are things that are gonna come part and parcel with the AI and that experience. And I don't know how much it's learning on its own. We're very quick to say the machine learning, but we know there's human hands in different places all over doing something and at least thinking this out. So I am very excited for it.

I think you're right. Story of the year for sure is our AI as you guys have mentioned, but I know those in the know, those utilizing it, the developers have been seeing it for a few years and every six months or less, it's changing so greatly. What we think of today, we'll be shocked at six months. What do you mean you're using AI to do that? - But I think the key point here for me is that we're seeing it come in in a very real way through devices like the Amazon Echo and devices like that. And I wonder from your perspective, what is it that you're looking for it to do that it doesn't do today? What can AI bring to the table? - I think we're still looking at the filtering out.

When I ask questions and it's giving me an answer back, not necessarily being so quick to display it. I wanna be able to say, this is my choice to have it. You read it to me, not say, oh, look on your TV. What? No, I don't wanna cast over there the choices. I wanna know about that. I'd like the choice to have a little more of that detail, which we know that's certainly in its sphere to do, but knowing as we talked about, these are my choices and the accuracy.

I think we still see AI getting you information, but it's still pulling from available sites, an article that might be out there. How do we get it to be more true and a little less of the stuff that is just gathered together and thrown? And that will come in its time, but that's what I need the assistant to do, whether it's Google or the A lady, just being able to filter out what Kelly MacDonald might've wrote on a site somewhere. That's just a bit of made up this or that or lack of background.

How does it get to actually getting the accurate? So we're always saying, hey, if you're asking a medical question, take the internet with a grain of salt. - So what you're saying, Kelly, here is that you want it to act like a real human assistant, which is you want it to learn about you. You want it to learn how you want things and you want it to deliver stuff in that context. And you wanna also be able to rely on it.

So I think that's the biggest key that we're worrying about right now when it comes to AI across the board is how reliable is the source of information? Whether it's looking on the internet to find it, it's looking into encyclopedia or a human is giving it. Even if it's going off and getting its own information, is it being set on the correct path or not? That's something we have yet to determine. - And I'm not, I don't wanna say, is it realistic to expect it to be there or is it realistic to expect Google to have a staff of people that are filling up the repository with information, just in case somebody might wanna know about this. How do you then define that without the AI assistance, which you know, again, as time goes on, you curtail it that way and it will look, it will do and say, no, that's not really an accurate source. We know that from experience, let's go elsewhere. These are the things that I am excited to see.

And you do feel already that Google, it kind of does learn in its own way wherever that AI is being applied that we, 'cause I'm sure there's plenty of places it's applied, we don't, we have no real idea. And obviously if someone told us, we'd say, well, of course, yeah, yeah, it makes sense. - You said something interesting there, which is that you're talking about Google and Google, let's not forget, Google has the largest repository of search data in the world. I mean, they've been doing this longer than anybody else. So they are definitely have a leg up on everybody else.

So when we see companies like OpenAI, for example, that now when you look at the AI landscape, they're the front runner, right? There's no hiding it. They're the ones who came to the market first with their language models with ChatGPT and they're promising some big things for the future. Here's Sam Altman from the developer conference earlier this year. - And with our new text-to-speech model, you'll be able to generate incredibly naturally, natural sounding audio from text in the API with six preset voices to choose from. I'll play an example.

- [Narrator] Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell, the eminent inventor, was enchanted by the world of sounds? His ingenious mind led to the creation of the graphophone, which etches sounds onto wax, making voices whisper through time. - This is much more natural than anything else we've heard out there. Voice can make apps more natural to interact with and more accessible. - So what's happening here, Kelly, obviously, is people are focusing on, everybody's focusing on making that identity of AI be more personable and more interaction more interactive, which may or may not be the actual right direction. Like should they be focusing on the data in itself? But then you look, for example, at companies like Be My Eyes that are really just taking the utility approach, right? It's AI utility.

Take it, do what you need to do, and then be done with it. Do we even need more? - Well, and I just wanna say that when I think about doing searches, looking for stuff, we're still grabbing it off of the Wikipedias and that out there that we're saying, "Well, that's just populated by someone. It's not necessarily." But when we go to a voice, years back, I would have killed for my JAWS to sound more human. My audio books, if I was given the option now, "Hey, would you like a voice like we just heard reading your audio book to you?" Or is it important to keep those narrators working? It's always important to keep people working, but the consumer says, "Yeah, but if you're gonna use that voice, and instead of 10,000 audio books being available, I can have a million at my disposal.

I'll never read the million, but I could have if you use that technology." And that's a hard argument. - It is, and it's actually interesting you bring that up because it's the same conversation we've been having over on DoubleTap for a long time. People are resistant to the change here because they say, "Well, what happens to narrators? What happens to that human element?" But as we've just heard in that demonstration from Sam Altman at the OpenAI conference earlier this year, the personality is starting to come through. And there are examples where it's becoming easier and sometimes even unnoticeable to recognize the difference.

We're seeing this in audio description as well. We're seeing how audio descriptions moving away from human narration in some cases, using AI for that. The good, the bad is difficult on that. I wanna get your take on Be My Eyes because they've had quite a big year.

Be My AI, of course, being their huge new feature that they brought out. I want you to just tell me your thoughts on that. And have you had a chance to play with Be My AI? - I use it. I have not taken pictures and got them to describe.

I have heard the results of it. We've talked about it on "Kelly and Ramya." I've had people send me stuff saying, "Listen to this." And that brings me back to what I was saying in the way of how I would consume that description.

When I hear it or have, it sounds like it's out of a novel. It's a description that way. Is it what I would want if I walked into a room and needed to know, okay, where's the bathroom? Where's the buffet table? Where's my table? (Steven laughs) How would I want this thing to tell me that? I don't necessarily you know, want In front of you is a vast room of this, that. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Well, maybe, but I'm not going up there to find any of the chandeliers.

I might want that image, but as we talked about, if it can tell me that, but I definitely love where they're going. And it's just weeks, literally weeks, if it already hasn't been. These things, people who are using it out there are shouting at the TV now saying, "They have refined it." And you know that that's on its way.

- So AI, no doubt, obviously, probably the biggest story of this year, if not even 2022, because it really crept into this year. No doubt. And I'm excited to see how this technology also makes its way out to things like smart glasses, et cetera, et cetera, which is pretty cool. [Kelly] Awe yes. Kelly, stick around. We're gonna take a quick break.

When we come back, we can't miss our Apple quota for the week. Apple, we need to mention at least once for Steven. (Steven chuckles.) And thankfully, one of their biggest product announcements in I don't know how long happened this past year.

So Kelly, stick around. When we come back, we're gonna talk all about Apple's Vision Pro headset and of course gaming. This is "Access Tech Live." (upbeat music) - [Announcer] We wanna hear from you.

Follow us on social media and get involved at "Access Tech Live." We'll be right back. - [Narrator] The latest in tech and accessibility. This is Access Tech Live with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo.

(upbeat music) - And the game award goes too, Forza Motorsport. (crowd cheers) - Thank you so much for this. Since this category was introduced several years ago, I think we've seen a dramatic shift in the whole industry towards making games more and more accessible, and with this list of amazing nominees, it just really drives that home. - That's Neha Chintala and Katrin Hilman accepting the award for Forza Motorsports in the innovation and accessibility category at the Game Awards just a couple of weeks ago. Kelly MacDonald is still with us, so, you know, onto gaming, guys.

We've gotta talk about this and you know, it's quite incredible how many categories now, we can talk about in the field of accessibility. I mean, you know, it has of course been another amazing year for accessibility in games, but the fact that we can even talk about it. Kelly, as blind guys, we can drive a car, finally. - Yeah. - I mean, how great is this? - [Kelly] Well, we had Marcus McCracken on our show. He brought Brandon on, who's been doing the testing and part of the developing for Forza Motorsport, and this for me, I've never been a big gamer, but I've always said to people, if there was the accessibility where I could play a game, I'd lose my job, for sure, because they'd, "Where is he?", and I'd be at home (mouth car noise) and screaming at the TV.

I think, this is scary to me on the level of wow, because I would love this, and we've always talked, Steven, with the feel. Give me some things to feel. Let me, as I make it, go into the turn, feel the tilt in somehow, and feel the road vibe, feel that I'm getting close to the wall when I vibe, you know, rub up against it via a vibration. These things are the telltales, that crazy enough, for not only us to help be able to do this without sight, but others to enjoy it who can see and say, oh, I feel myself rubbing against that wall.

It's beautiful. - [Steven] Do you know what's incredible about this game? I've been learning a little bit about it by talking to some of the players. I'm like you, I'm not a big gamer either. And I realize a lot of that is because of the inaccessibility of games up until now. So we haven't been going out buying PlayStations and Xboxes because what would be the point, right? But this game has got so much customization in it that allows you to do things like hearing specific beeps and boops along the way so that you know exactly where you are on the track, you know where the cars are around you. You can drive in a straight line, you can turn, you can make those curves, you know exactly where you're going just based on audio, on vibration, feedback, all of that.

I mean, it's just incredible how much they've done to this game that can allow, you know, a blind guy to drive at 200 miles an hour. I just, I am honestly blown away by it. And what is incredible, I mean, obviously like you say you had Brandon Cole on the show who was, you know, one of the key people, the key advocates who were involved in making sure this game got its credentials.

And of course he gave it those credentials just by being part of it. But so many other blind players, totally blind players, actually playing this game and enjoying it. I mean, it does make me very tempted to, to get myself an Xbox, or at least try and make the argument to Mrs. Scott, that I should have an Xbox in the house. (Kelly laughs) - Well, I think too, it's amazing when you look at these people who have played the games without the accessibility, who have found ways, and you don't have to be a genius.

You have to desire to want to do it and then be able to express that back, explain that back, make your suggestions somehow, but you also need the listening ear to say, come over and tell me more about that as we design this. What would you have done here? What would you like? Well, I can't exactly tell you how to design this into it, but I would like, and this would help. I could learn or do the game if I could do that.

Thank you. And I think that the Brandons out there, the people doing it, the Marcuses sitting at home and having some fun and saying, "Hey", Steven, Kelly trying it out and, and never. It's that battling through it that these people have done to make them be able to explain and help the rest of us be able to participate down the road. - [Marc] It's kind of the empowerment, right, Kelly? It's, you know, - [Kelly] It is.

- [Marc] now that people are realize that they're listening and they're doing it. - [Kelly] Yes. - [Marc] People aren't scared to speak up and tell them what they want. - [Kelly] Yeah. And the companies are not afraid to invest the money knowing, hey, this is another market here, we've been, you know, ignoring.

Have not known how to serve and is that all we have to do to make ourselves a lot of money? And I know we're seeing that everywhere, but gaming for some reason, I guess it's that one thing people say, look, there's far more accessibility and things out there that disabled people need versus games. And we're all screaming, are you kidding, like, what? (All laugh) - Okay, well, you know, - I wanna play a game. - You talk about games and a company that's not synonymous with gaming is now trying to get into gaming, which is Apple, right? So Apple's now talking all about the things they wanna do in gaming. Their computers are now gaming compatible, everything's great. And then they go out and, and they announce a product like Apple Vision Pro, their mixed reality headset.

Here's CEO Tim Cook at that announcement earlier this year. - It's already been a big day, but we do have one more thing. This is a day that's been years in the making, one that I've really been looking forward to. I believe that augmented reality is a profound technology blending digital content with the real world can unlock experiences like nothing we've ever seen. So today I'm excited to announce an entirely new AR platform with a revolutionary new product.

And here it is, - [Narrator] A video plays, from the darkness, a bead of light splits into a beam veering left and right. The points of the beam mirror each other slowly tracing a bode line. They draw upward along curved edges and meet in an arch, pulling a device fully out of shadow.

A metal frame surrounds a curved piece of black glass. It rotates, revealing cameras behind the glass. Perforations punctuate the aluminum lower curve. Light dances over a digital crown, which turns beside a knitted mesh textile.

Light races across knit ridges and shadows retreat revealing the cushioned surface of a band. The device pulls back revealing a headband attached to straps which connect to the optical frame. From the darkness a user appears wearing the device around their head. A cord stretches downward from the left side. The glass front of the device changes from black to reveal the user's eyes. The user stares straight ahead, then blinks.

- Introducing Apple Vision Pro. - Okay, so the question here, I'll start with Steven Scott, you gonna buy this? - No, I'm not buying this. - Why? - But this is made by Apple, you have to buy it. - Do we have a breaking news thing that we can throw up on screen? Because I don't think we've ever, I've ever said I'm not buying an Apple product in my life. but honestly it is, it is true.

I'm not buying this, as much as I think it is gonna be brilliant. I think it's gonna be great. I think it's gonna have huge benefits. I think it's gonna take computing to a new level. For me, I've gotta see some apps on there that make it worthwhile.

It's a bit like the question about buying an Xbox or a PlayStation, you know? Yeah, it could go out and buy an Xbox and PlayStation. It's got accessibility built in. How many games can I buy for it? Oh, what one? Ah, do you know what, I'll wait, I'll hold back. So, that's where I'm at.

- [Mark] Kelly? - [Kelly] Same, same thing. I, when this came out, I thought, oh wow, advancement, but my head's not there to, okay, how could I enjoy, what can I do yet with augmented glasses, with the little bit of vision I have to see these things on there. Not enough, but it's the hope for the future. Just like the driverless cars, like you sit back and say, "Okay, you're doing something like this now," and again, I had to get to the point with an iPhone simply realizing, yeah, I'm not gonna use everything, even things that I can use, I'm not gonna use everything on this. I get that these glasses are gonna be the same way, regardless of whatever they built into it. But you gotta give me something to make it worth me getting other than, look at me in these cool glasses I can't do anything with, but I look good, and I'm spending the money.

It's coming, something. But I'm gonna project Steven, and I don't know if you'll agree with me, I think we're still good, even after it's in Canada here. We're still a ways away, three years, four years before it's something we can do anything.

It's kinda like waiting for the iPhone four S to get any speaking in it or anything like that back in the day. - That's right. That's exactly it. Yeah, yeah, and you know, people forget that, right? The iPhone came out, we had to wait till the four S, and then we got voiceover and it was like, oh my goodness, this basically, this piece of glass is now accessible to us. The thing is out of the gate, the Vision Pro will be accessible.

We know that it will have voiceover on it. We've had it demonstrated pretty much on day one, we had that, which is incredible. But I have to say, there's accessibility and there's usability, [Kelly] That's right. and I think that's gonna be the big issue for me with this device because how is this gonna be something I can use and benefit from? It's a lot of money to pay for a very fancy screen I can't see.

And it's probably at that point, I'm maybe just personally at that point in my life where I'm just not prepared to spend that kind of money on something that I feel I'm just throwing it away. You know, the, on the front of the device, there's gonna be like this fog, which represents you using the device. That's how I'll see it inside, - a foggy mess. - [Marc] Inside It's a lot of money to spend on a foggy mess. I know. - [Marc] It's like a five thousand dollar pair of headphones.

- [Kelly] Well that's it. That's what I see it for at the moment. Wow, that's kind of neat.

That's kind of nice. As long as I'm not spilling out and bothering anyone. But it's again, the decisions you make of products that you're gonna buy, you're not gonna buy every iPhone on the market. You'll choose the one you want because of its usability. - [Steven] And I've got AirPods if I want good headphones, right? I mean that's that.

- Oh yeah. - [Steven] That is my Vision Pro. That's my ears pro. - [Kelly] Yep. - [Marc] You can buy almost 50 pair of, of AirPods if you want compared to the price of the Vision Pro. - [Kelly] That's right.

- Well, we'll see. Listen, we're expecting to see, you know, this headset come to market or at least be available sometime in the first half of 2024. - Are you gonna buy it Marc? - What? - Are you gonna buy it? - He'll get one. He can test and play around with it.

That's what he'll do. - Yes. - Yes, I will, I will. I'll probably buy it from the States and bring it to Canada to figure it all out. Will I keep it? I don't know. I mean, when Meta came out with their, their Quest Pro, I got it for a couple weeks, played with it, said "I'm never gonna use this," and returned it. So, you know, but that was a quarter of the price, literally.

So this is really expensive investment for something that is not yet proven. I think that's why it's the price that it is, because they don't expect people, - And I don't dunno what I expect from it, - Yeah - like in future, what, - Yeah - let Be My Eyes work through it for me. You know what I mean? Like I don't know what I would want. I'm never gonna be able to see videos. Yeah, right. - [Marc] Yeah, it's definitely interesting.

- [Steven] Tricky one. - [Marc] You know, there's one more story I wanted to kind of throw in here because I know Steven's gonna give me a five word answer to this, and I'm sure Kelly, you're gonna have the same reaction. Elon Musk, Twitter and X. - Oh, well I can start if you want. It was terrible.

Everything's broken. It's dead. It's fine again.

And just that on loop pretty much for the entire year. - [Kelly] Mm hmm. - [Marc] It's more of the same. - It's interesting when these guys, yeah, and playing with a toy that you're just destroying, it's like that 5-year-old that plays, gets bored, and by the time you're done with it, you can't even give it to another kid because look what he's done to it. It's what's going on.

And you just ask the question, why? - [Marc] I wish I could afford toys like him. - We should have given 'em the box the bird came in. That would probably been a lot easier. (Kelly laughs) - Been cheaper for, - Kelly MacDonald, thank you so much. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us.

Happy New Year. Enjoy, obviously, your show today. You got what? A couple more shows before the new year? Wishing you all the best and thank you for being with us. - Yeah, thanks a lot for having me.

Folks check out our Christmas show on 2:00 PM Friday on Kelly and Ramya. And guys, the best of the season to you and all viewers. - [Steven] Thanks Kelly. - When we come back, the executive director of the Consumer Technology Association Foundation, his name is Steve Ewell, he joins us next as we continue our look back at 2023.

This is Access Tech Live. - [Narrator] We want to hear from you, follow us on social media and get involved at Access Tech Live. We'll be right back. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) - [Announcer] The latest in tech and accessibility.

This is Access Tech Live with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. (upbeat music continues) - Hey guys, welcome back. Now Steve Ewell is the Executive Director of the Consumer Technology Association Foundation, a foundation whose mission is to link seniors and people with disabilities with technology and enhance our lives. Steve, welcome to Access Tech Live. Great to have you here.

- Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here and excited to preview some great stuff we have coming up at CES. - Oh, I can't wait to dive in.

Listen, we're here this week looking back at the biggest tech in 2023. We wanted to get your perspective on this as well, not just looking forward, this time of year we always look back. When it comes to accessibility, of course, this is one of your foundation's missions.

It's the key mission, arguably. So what was the biggest, in your eyes, from the past year, what was the biggest announcement? - Yeah, so that's obviously a hard thing to pick just one technology, certainly. But I think certainly this was the year of AI. We saw AI really being covered across the entire technology world this year, and both from a kind of machine learning aspect. So as we think about smart home products and other solutions that can continue to learn and adapt to our preferences and our environment, we're seeing products get better and better in that space. But then as you look at some of the generative AI solutions that have come out in the last year and the opportunities that that could have also both at home but also at work, like helping people.

I know I've played around with them, they help quite a bit with generating something that you can send out or things along those lines. So certainly AI is one of the biggest aspects for me when I look at accessible technology over the last year. - Steve, you know, number one, if I was a betting man, I would win 100 bucks from guessing that answer.

I think everybody would probably have figured out that AI is the biggest over the past year. Thinking about it in the larger perspective of things, especially when it comes to accessibility, is there anything that was announced or any kind of way that AI was used that got your brain thinking a little bit differently and opened up and like, "Oh wait a second, I never thought it could do that"? - Yeah, so I think it's interesting when we're looking at it, digital health is a big aspect that we're looking at, what ways can technology help people live healthy? And we're starting to see more and more solutions integrate AI into their solution. In fact, we're going to do a health tech pitch coming up and I know we'll get a chance to dive into that, but we're seeing people integrate the AI to help those solutions better adapt to what are your needs versus Steven's needs versus my needs and really be able to customize those solutions. And it seems like a simple answer, but it really has a massive impact when you think about what you need to basically these AIs can know everything that you need to know. They're able to be up on the latest journals and other things along those lines and integrate that in their recommendations for people. - Yeah, it's interesting because of course we were just talking to Kelly McDonald about that very thing, how AI can work independently for each person and that is of course something that can work across health as well.

Now you also mentioned your pitch contest, which is a big highlight every year and really gives an opportunity to discover new companies. Now last year we saw winners like GoodMaps and Xander. Do you follow these companies after they win and what are they doing now that you're aware of? - Yeah, absolutely. So I try to keep up with all these companies. I just am so thrilled to see products from across the world that come to CES.

And last year's pitch really was kind of the theme that we were all dealing with is getting back out into the world at that point in January, 2023. So yeah, our winner was GoodMaps. They're actually gonna be back at CES this year, but they're continuing to build out their navigation solution for blind and low vision, but honestly their solution can help a lot of people navigate indoors. So we're excited to see them. ReBokeh Vision, which was our runner up at the contest last year, has an app that can help basically adjust different coloring, it can read things. So helps the blind and low vision community, especially because I know Rebecca, the founder of ReBokeh has albinism and typical glasses and other things along those lines actually don't correct her vision loss.

So she was looking for a solution that could address some of her individual needs. She's gonna be back at CES this year and showcasing her app and has gone on to do a number of accelerator programs and I feel like continues to get more and more attention throughout the year. And then the last one you mentioned was Xander and they'll be actually exhibiting with AARP at CES. They were our audience choice at the pitch contest and they've got these really incredible smart glasses that do captioning. So if you're someone who has hearing loss, being able to, as we're talking, just have right in front of my eye the opportunity to see what you all are saying, that can help with comprehension. So we're seeing them continue to build and grow as well.

So yes, we absolutely stay in touch with the companies that win our pitch competitions, but honestly I like to stay in touch with all the companies that participate. 'Cause I don't know, I'm a little bit of a geek. I love all these types of technologies and I want to hear, it's hard being a startup founder, so I want to hear their great successes as well as their challenges and if there's ways we can be helpful to them.

- Steve, it's the calm before the storm for you. I know we're, what, three weeks away, actually less than three weeks away from CES 2024. We'll of course be there and we'll be talking to some great company that you've had the privilege of connecting us with. What excites you personally about this CES in particular? - So this CES is really looking incredible. So we'll have about 130,000 attendees from all over the world. About a third of those attendees will be from outside the US.

We have over 1,000, I think we're closing in on over 1,100 startups from all over the world as well as well as kind of the big global brands that you're used to seeing at CES. So I'm really excited to just kind of really be back and engaged at the show. We have some great programming that we're putting together, certainly the pitch that we'll dive into in a little bit more detail, but things like, we run this contest every year for startup companies that can address the needs of either older adults or people with disabilities. We have five companies that we're gonna be showcasing on the floor right in the front of Eureka Park that have really incredible, everything from an over-the-counter hearing aid to a social robot to a basically haptic tablet that can help blind, low vision people follow sports and be able to feel where on the pitch or on the field the ball is and the different players are.

So, you know, all of these are really incredible examples and honestly, what I'm most excited about is people are talking about the ways technology can improve the lives of older adults and people with disabilities. We've seen that topic grow over the last decade, I'd say, and this year is gonna be an incredible year for it. - You know, accessibility comes up and you guys are of course at the heart of all of that.

But you know what's really interesting for me as a consumer and someone who is in this space watching and reporting on this, how much more we talk about accessibility, is that because there are more companies devoting their time to accessibility? Or is it that companies are actually realizing that their products can benefit people in that accessibility space? You know, companies that we might never think of, like Amazon for example. Most people probably don't even think about Amazon as a company that creates products that are accessible, but their products are accessible. Do you think people are coming to a realization about it? - I think so.

I think it's been a major push to create that awareness and really awareness across the spectrum. So both that consumers can understand what accessibility is out there and can be helpful for themselves, but also the companies understanding that yes, there's absolute, as much as I'd like to say I'm a charitable foundation, so I'm saying do the right thing, do the good thing, and there are companies that absolutely do it for that reason, but there's also a real business opportunity for them. There's customers that are looking for devices that can solve their needs.

And whether you're talking the aging population or the disability population, between those two groups, they're massively growing in a lot of pieces of the world. So this is an opportunity for those companies to address those needs. And certainly, I won't claim credit for changing the entire conversation there, but there's part of the reason we do a lot of work around accessibility at things like CES because you have the developers from various products, the engineers from various products from all over the world there, and it's our opportunity to help put that message right in front of them. So when they go back and start developing the next round of products, hopefully they're considering accessibility. - [Steven] Steve, what's coming up at this year's pitch competition? - So this year's pitch competition is focused on health tech.

So we've got eight companies. We got, we have dozens and dozens of entries from all over Eureka Park, which is the startup area of CES, enter this year. So everything from a wearable headband that can do kind of brain computer interfaces to an AI solution that can help with creating care solutions in the healthcare environment to a translator and captioning solution designed for the medical community for deaf and hard of hearing attendees. We're gonna have eight really incredible companies that are gonna be pitching. We've got a gentleman named Paul Amadeus Lane, who is an accessibility consultant who is going to be their MC of the event.

We've got three great judges that come from the healthcare space that are going to be evaluating and asking questions of the pitching companies. We actually have a fourth additional judge. We partnered with an organization called the Patient Safety Technology Challenge and they're bringing a fourth judge and he's going to be looking specifically at where there's opportunities for these health tech companies to address patient safety needs.

And they'll be offering up an additional award. So we'll basically have our grand prize chosen by the judges. We have our audience choice, so for any of your audience that are gonna be at CES, I encourage them to come out to the pitch 'cause they'll get to choose one of the winners as well.

And then we'll have the patient safety winner as well. So it'd be a great chance for us to recognize a variety of different companies at the show. - Steve Ewell, it has been wonderful talking to you. I cannot imagine how much work you have on over the next few weeks, but I wish you all the best with CES in 2024 and we can't wait to catch up with you and your colleagues as well in Las Vegas. Happy New Year to you Steve when it comes and thank you for joining us. - Well thank you so much for having me and I really look forward to seeing you at CES and thank you for all the coverage that you're doing of these important issues and I look forward to celebrating with you in the new year.

- As do we. Steve Ewell, the Executive Director of the CTA Foundation. When we return, the answers to our question of the day, what tech or tech trends are you looking forward to most in 2024? Well, we'll find out in a couple seconds here on Access Tech Live. (upbeat music) - [Announcer] We want to hear from you. Follow us on social media and get involved @accesstechlive.

We'll be right back. (upbeat music continues) (bright upbeat music) - [Narrator 1] The latest in tech and accessibility. This is "Access Tech Live" with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. (bright upbeat music) - Welcome back. Now, let's get to our question of the day. What tech or tech trends are you looking forward to most in 2024? I'm gonna cheat. I'm just gonna say AI.

I want more AI. More and more AI. - Oh, come on. Oh, come on, Steven. You couldn't come up with something better than that? - Maybe a Vision Pro to try for a couple of weeks, but other than that, - Oh, to try, not to buy, - I'm sending it back.

- I like it. (laughs) - I'll send it back. I'm not keeping it. - Okay, I got a couple answers here that we're gonna highlight here. Marc-Francois wrote us, DNA replication. Okay, I think that's pushing it just a little bit in terms of we may or may not - Is that legal? - be capable of doing in 2024, but I mean, we can go for it, right? - Well, you can. I'll maybe, I'll sit that one out. You try it first.

- I always tell my son, you know, "You work on this, Zach. You work on teleportation. You tell me when it's done and we'll be ready to go with it." (Steven laughing) Will sent us a note on Facebook saying, EV battery advancements. That's a pretty cool one because we could all use a little bit more range in our electric cars that we don't have and that we wanna buy.

Tom writes us, a laundry folder. They have that. You see, that actually exists. I've seen that. Panasonic has a laundry folder. They even have a giant one - Are they any good? - that you can actually.

Are they good? I'm sure they, I mean, they're probably really expensive. I've seen them in a couple like home renovation shows where they spend like $14,000 on these things that steam and fold and do your laundry, but why not? How bad can they be, Steven? - I just want one that I can throw my clothes at. It just cleans them, irons them, folds them, puts them away. Is that too much to ask? - It is a little bit too much to ask. Grant Hardy, of course, who was on last week.

"Aside from Assistive Tech, I'd like to see some tech-related progress that benefits the environment. Not entirely sure what I imagine this being, but something that gives us cleaner energy maybe." Listen, I'm all for that as well. Thank you.

Thank you, Grant. - Yeah. - Steven, we've got like, you know, 30 seconds left to say Happy New Year to everybody. A couple of great shows coming up in the next couple weeks, and then we come back in 2024 for CES and (indistinct). So, thank you, of course. Thanks to all our guests who were on the show this week, Kelly MacDonald and Steve Ewell. On behalf of everybody and everybody in the control room, thank you for watching this week's edition of "Access Tech Live." - [Steven] Thanks, everybody.

- We will see you in the new year. Happy New Year, guys. - [Narrator 1] Thanks for tuning in to "Access Tech Live." Follow us online at all social media @accesstechlive. Email us,

Hosted by Steven Scott in Glasgow and Marc Alflalo in Montreal. Written by Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. Live show director, Anastasia Spalding-Stenhouse. Technical director, Kaitlynn Robinson. Audio, Jordan Mulgrave. Live graphics and playback, Kingsley Juuko.

Graphics coordinator, Eliza Rocco. Integrated described video specialist, Em Williams. Supervising producer, Michelle Dudas. Copyright 2023 Accessible Media Inc. (upbeat music) - [Narrator 2] An AMI original production.

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2023-12-30 23:01

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