Nick Howden, CEO at RealThing AI Talks To Us About The New RealSAM Smart Speaker

RealSAM is a subsidiary of Australian Artificial Intelligence developer, RealThing Ai that operates in Australia, the UK and the USA. We have recently launched the new RealSAM Smart Speaker, which is an AI personal assistant for blind and visually impaired people.

It is now delivering news updates, 27,000 books, the latest official Coronavirus information, podcasts and helpful information from a range of UK sight loss charities all on one platform. This follows the launch of the RealSAM Pocket which was the UK’s first fully voice-activated smartphone for blind people.
RealSAM Inc – The home of RealSAM in the USA

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The RealSAM products are the result of years of collaboration between the RNIB, O2 and Australian Artificial Intelligence developers, RealThing Ai. However, the need for voice-activated technology has never been greater. More than two million people are living with sight loss in the UK and the RNIB expects that this will be over four million people by the year 2050.

This growing number is more likely to experience reduced wellbeing and independence compared to the rest of the population. All of our products are extensively beta tested, with feedback from visually impaired and blind customers to be as accessible and helpful as possible.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The RealSAM Smart Speaker was launched during the pandemic which heightened the need for disability-friendly entertainment content and information. Firstly, there have been times when the government has not provided specific coronavirus information to those who are blind or visually impaired. Therefore, we have included this on the platform in conjunction with RNIB.

Secondly, we have all spent more time than ever before at home and the need to keep amused, engaged, and connected has been vital. Technology has been fundamental over the last year in transporting us from reality, connecting us with friends and enhancing our wellbeing and happiness.

For the blind and visually impaired community, video calling and online information tools are not always accessible, which has led to even greater levels of social isolation and loneliness. This has been exacerbated by many of those with disabilities who are shielding and have needed a hub for all your information and escapist needs.

Our spokesperson, Roger Wilson-Hinds is a long-term user of this technology and has worked with the RNIB and the Department of Employment as a Disability Consultant. He has said that this technology has been an ‘essential companion to me during the recent lockdown’.

For parents with visually impaired or blind children, the RealSAM Smart Speaker also hosts entertainment resources and home-schooling content. This includes over 3,000 audiobooks specifically for these age groups, including Key Stage 1-4, GCSE and A-Level texts to assist with studies.

Finally, we also recognise that sight loss charities have had depleted resources due to the pandemic and have had to adapt how they deliver support. RealSAM is committed to assisting these important partners due to the valuable information and support they provide to the vision-impaired community.

What can we hope to see from RealSAM in the future?

AI will continue to transform the lives of people with disabilities with a huge focus on making the user experience simpler. Innovative conversational technology produced by RealSAM will continue to improve, and the product will grow with more content partners making news and entertainment content accessible to its subscribers.

Recently, we added Calibre Audio Library, the national charity meaning that there are now over 27,000 audiobooks available on RealSAM, and in May 2021, the Smart Speaker will also be available on Amazon Alexa as well as Google Nest speakers.