Introducing the RealSAM smart speaker

RealSAM, the people behind the 'In Your Pocket' accessible phone, have developed a smart speaker skill so that you can access audiobooks and podcasts on a Google smart speaker.
We were lucky enough to be asked to have our content included in this new service, so we thought we'd ask Richard from our Digital Team to write a review for us to share what it's all about...

Introduction to RealSAM

Henshaws have been working together with RealSAM for quite some time now; they are a subsidiary of an Australian AI (Artificial Intelligence) business, and are the developer of the In Your Pocket phone, which you can purchase in our online shop.

On the In Your Pocket phone, you can access newspapers, audiobooks and podcasts by pressing a button and saying something like, “Read me a book.” After a short conversation with the device, you can then listen to an audiobook.

In Your Pocket is a fully voice-controlled mobile phone for people living with sight loss and blindness, designed to be easy to use and packed with useful features, the technology helps people with sight loss to make calls, receive messages, stream books or newspapers, and get navigation assistance.

RealSam have taken their experience and developed a skill for the Google Home speakers.

In Your Pocket
RealSAM smart speaker with logo

Accessing the RealSAM skill

I have access to a Google Home Mini at the office, so it was time to give the RealSAM skill a test drive! Access to the system was as easy as saying, “Hey Google, talk to RealSam.” This got me into the skill and listening to the welcome message.

At this point, I would highly recommend saying, “user guide,” to listen to the user guide and not dive right in (like I did!) My initial experience was very much like building some flat pack furniture from IKEA – I dived right in, and after multiple responses about not being understood, I decided to check out the instructions, which made the whole experience much better!

Listening to books

Saying “List Books” informed me of the available sources of audio books, and picking a number took me to that source. At the time of trying, as well as my bookshelf and favourites, there were two additional sources, Torch Trust and Calibre.

Asking for ‘Calibre’ got me to the logging in section where I was asked for my Calibre user number and PIN. Initially, I was disappointed as I thought that I had to listen to the list in its entirety before making a selection, but I later found out that I could interrupt at any time by saying “Hey, Google,” and then saying the number of the option I wanted to select.

Listening to Henshaws information

Saying ‘Tell me about Henshaws’ will give a brief introduction to our charity, followed by a list of options:

1 – Presentation of Henshaws (more details about our services).

2 – Henshaws latest Hello newsletter

3 – Henshaws Sound Advice (this contains a number of articles you can listen to, such as ‘gift ideas for visually impaired people’ and ‘the COVID-19 app’).

Accessibility of the service

The same voice commands used for the In Your Pocket device worked on the Google Home Mini, so the whole experience was relatively familiar to me.

There were some noticeable pauses between the instruction being given and the response on some occasions, but not enough to impact on the whole experience. There are also a number of podcasts available from sources that have been hand-picked by the RealSAM team.

Subscription to the RealSAM speaker

The cost of the service is normally £9.95 per month, but paying for two months now will get you the service until the end of 2021 (so only £19.90). You can sign up here.

It is worth noting that the RealSAM speaker subscription does not include the speaker itself or the internet connection, so you will need to supply these yourself and get your speaker going.

Future developments

Content is currently limited, but it is early days, having only been released this month! RealSAM are working hard to increase the content available, and there will be no additional charges for new content or services that are added.

RealSAM are also working on the Alexa version, which they hope to release soon.

Further support

If you have any questions about this new service, or need help setting up the equipment, please contact our Digital Team on 0300 222 5555 or email info@henshaws.org.uk

If you are also interested in the In Your Pocket device from RealSAM, give our video with Mark a watch!

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Sarah
Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.