On August 26, Samsung Electronics officially announced that its 2020 smart TVs have obtained the RNIB Tried and Tested certification from the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom, indicating that its 2020 smart TVs are suitable for their visually impaired consumers. Moving forward, this article shall discuss smart tv and the visually-impaired vis-a-vis how they can watch TV.
Smart tv And The Visually-Impaired: They Have The Same TV Needs as You
Do you have such doubts about whether the visually impaired can also watch TV? This kind of doubt is actually just the solidified cognition of most people. At least 80% of the external information of human beings is obtained through vision.
Therefore, because of the lack of visual information, visually impaired people mainly rely on hearing to obtain information.
In addition, some people have come to these inferences that the visually impaired people who do not watch TV, only need to listen to the radio, Only need to use radio, and other audio equipment. wrong! Wrong!
The Visually Impaired Can’t View the TV Pictures But They Can Enjoy The TV Experience; Learn How
Although it is true that the visually impaired cannot enjoy the rich TV picture, they also need to “watch” TV. Watching TV is the most common entertainment activity in the home scene, and it is usually a background element for gathering and communicating in a family.
In recent years, more and more film and television works and variety shows have provided more abundant content on TV. Statistics show that a considerable number of visually impaired people have paid members who purchase video platforms, and the visually impaired also have a huge demand for video entertainment.
Visually impaired people can understand the screen of the TV screen by “listening” to the characters’ dialogue, background music, scene sound, and other sound effects. Apart from this, they can even judge the character’s position, mood and clearly grasp the context of the plot.
Although there may be some missing information, it does not affect the visually impaired people’s enjoyment of watching TV as an entertainment activity, nor does it affect the content of the current programs that they communicate with their relatives and friends.
How to Provide Barrier-free Support for The Visually-Impaired users in the Era of Smart TV?
In recent years, with the development of the Internet, traditional TV manufacturers have transformed from the initial set-top boxes to smart TVs equipped with open operating systems and chips. Compared with traditional TVs, users use the remote control to switch channels and adjust the volume through buttons. Smart TV users can already install and uninstall various application software on the TV by themselves, and there are more types of programs to choose from.
How The Blind or Visually-Impaired Can Successfully Operate the TV
In front of smart TVs, how should visually impaired users perceive and complete this complicated TV playback process? The industry already has some examples that can be referred to.
How The Visually Impaired Can Use Apple TV
Smart TV set-top boxes are represented by Apple TV, with multiple built-in auxiliary functions or compatible with external auxiliary devices, which facilitates the control of the TV by obstacle groups including the visually impaired, hearing impaired, and physically impaired.
With accessibility features, visually impaired users can control the TV with voice through Siri; they can play games, movies, and TV shows without picking up the remote control; or use switch control or Bluetooth keyboard to navigate items on the screen.
Samsung Smart TVs for the Visually-Impaired
Smart TVs, represented by Samsung, have also been optimized and designed for barrier-free functions. Since 2013, Samsung has started to strengthen the proximity function for visually impaired TV users. In 2016, Samsung won the “Inclusive Society Award” from the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) for its accessible smart TV.
In the smart TV launched by Samsung this year, the function of linking with the Samsung Galaxy smartphone camera was added. This serves as a kind of “smart magnifying glass” that presents small characters or images on the big screen, and has a “focus magnification function”; at the same time, It provides barrier-free functions such as voice guidance, contrast enhancement, digital magnifying glass, etc.
Basically, this helps to guide the operation of screen-reading for blind users and to improve the ease of viewing the screen for users with low vision.
Figure: Voice guide in Samsung Smart TV
To some extent, the barrier-free optimization that smart TV needs to carry out is similar to that of other common terminal devices. It’s just a device that controls the input, maybe from a keyboard, mouse, and our fingers, to remote control and voice.
From the system perspective, smart TVs can provide basic accessibility support for users with disabilities through built-in accessibility services and auxiliary functions such as screen reading software. At the same time, system interfaces and various applications also need to be optimized for barrier-free access to be compatible with the operation of auxiliary tools.
From the hardware level, from the switches and interfaces on the shell to the buttons on the remote control, it is also necessary to consider how to make it accessible to users.
In front of a smart TV that has been optimized for accessibility, visually impaired users can operate the remote control to browse the menu elements on the TV interface one by one.
While doing this, the text passing through the area will be read aloud, and the parameter changes of various settings can also be reminded in real-time, thereby aiding visually impaired users to choose the TV programs they want to watch step by step.
Accessibility is an Indispensable Feature of the Smart Tv’s Big screen
On the basis of smart TV, the smart screen has a further epoch-making significance. With the continued rise of smartphones, the turn-on rate of TVs has gone from bad to worse. The emergence of smart screens is an innovative evolution form of smart TVs, and is a home smart interactive terminal driven by emerging technologies such as AI and the internet of things(IoT).
On the basis of providing higher-quality audio-visual entertainment functions, the smart screen realizes multi-modal natural interaction and loT smart home control functions through powerful computing power, perception, and interconnection capabilities, bringing users a more rich, smart, and personalized experience.
In specific applications, the advantages of smart screens are reflected in two aspects
In connection, the smart screen can connect the surrounding smart home devices together, and the user can control the smart speakers, smart air conditioners, smart refrigerators, smart curtains, etc. connected to the smart screen through voice. This is also an important prerequisite for the realization of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, giving users a great degree of convenience.
In terms of interaction, smart screens can “listen and speak” and make appropriate action decisions autonomously. Users can use remote controls, mobile phones, keyboards and other devices to control, through voice, gestures and other more natural multi-mode made for human-computer interaction.
Ideally, this will bring more independent and convenient operation possibilities to handicapped users.
However, if barrier-free is not done, for users with disabilities represented by the visually impaired, whether they are “watching” TV programs or operating other smart devices through smart screens, they will be “tired” and things can become more complex.
Looking Forward to the Barrier-Free Future of Chinese Smart TVs and Smart Screens
Chinese smart TVs such as the old brands TCL, Changhong, Skyworth, Hisense, etc., as well as brands that have extended their product lines from the mobile phone market to enter the smart TV market, such as Huawei, Xiaomi/Redmi, OnePlus, etc., are fiercely dividing the large-screen market. Share.
In August 2019, after Huawei first proposed the concept of “smart screen” category, more than 20 brands including Skyworth, TCL, Changhong, Konka, Honor, Haier, etc. launched smart screen products, and the models on sale have reached the top.
Although in recent years, more and more mobile terminal products have begun to pay attention to and start to optimize accessibility, and in the process verified the commercial value and social value brought by information accessibility.
However, limited to our limited understanding and neglect of the needs of visually impaired users, there are currently only a few smart TVs and smart screens that are developing barrier-free. The visually impaired users have very limited choices for TV brands, and the market demand for barrier users is far from satisfied.
Under the ecological development trend of chip, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, Internet, and other industries, smart screen technology is about to enter the stage of a booming industry, but the current technology applications still need to be standardized and polished.
If information can be added to industry standards Accessibility-related requirements, as an important breakthrough point to improve the usability of products, are bound to open up a larger market for smart screens.
Whether it is a smart TV or a smart screen manufacturer, it is an absolute trend to incorporate information accessibility into the functional planning of the product. The barrier group, including the visually impaired, is still a massive user market to be developed, and barrier-free smart screens will help them Bring a richer life.