Google has launched overnight a new tool to help people with cognitive disabilities communicate much more easily with Action Blocks.
Originally shown at Google I/O this year, the company showed how a fellow Googler – Lorenzo Caggioni – used the Google Assistant to build a device called DIVA for his brother Giovanni, who is legally blind, deaf and has Down Syndrome. DIVA was created to help people with disabilities feel more independent by helping them interact with the Assistant in a non-verbal way.
It’s from DIVA that Action Blocks has become the next step to help people with disabilities feel more independent than ever before.
Action blocks will enable carers to add Assistant commands to the home screen of Android smartphones and tablets. These commands are represented by a custom image that can be set and controlled by just a simple tap on the screen. For example, when there is a Action Block image of a taxi on the screen, simply tapping on this icon can order a taxi or rideshare service like Uber for them.
Action Blocks can be configured to do anything the Assistant can do, like switch smart lights on and off, call loved ones, share your location, watch your favourite show and much more.
Currently, Action Blocks is still in its early testing phase but does show some incredible promise. If you’re a caregiver or family member of someone with a disability that could benefit from Action Blocks, you can head over and sign up to Google’s trusted tested program here. You can also keep up to date with the program by following @googleaccess on twitter