For people with disabilities, technologies and assistive gadgets can help be the eyes, ears and hands they need to live independently at home. The ‘Museum of Possibilities’ is Tamil Nadu state’s first facility for people with disabilities that showcases various accessible technologies and assistive devices such as Amazon’s Alexa voice service, Echo smart speakers, and Fire TV. Visitors to the Museum can learn how Alexa can help people with vision and locomotor disabilities to access entertainment content, get information, control smart home appliances, connect with friends/ family, and stay organized with simple voice commands.
The Museum of Possibilities, located in Chennai, is an initiative by the Tamil Nadu government, The Commissionerate for the Welfare of the Differently Abled and NGO Vidya Sagar to show how assistive technologies can enable people with disabilities to lead independent lives.
“Until you or someone close to you has experienced a disability, it’s rare that you’d have had the opportunity to understand the everyday needs of someone without the ability to see, hear or move the way able-bodies can,” said Tmt. Jacintha Lazarus I.A.S. and Commissioner, Differently Abled, Tamil Nadu. “It’s great to have Amazon joining us on our mission to show the big and small steps families and communities can take to understand and provide assistive and adaptive technologies to help those that need it to better manage everyday life”.
“We have received encouraging feedback from customers in India with mobility, vision, as well as speech disabilities on their unique requirements and ways of interacting with Alexa for entertainment as well as to get things done,” said Dilip R.S., Country Manager for Alexa, Amazon India. “It was great to work with the Museum of Possibilities team for integrating the Alexa experience and Echo devices into the Museum, showing the benefits of voice and AI. We hope the Museum’s smart and accessible home exhibits will show people with disabilities and their families how voice services and accessible technologies can help people of all needs and abilities live more confidently and independently.”
Poonam Natarajan, Founder and Board Member of Vidya Sagar, adds “The Museum of Possibilities plays a key role in showcasing how innovative technology can create new opportunities and improve quality of life for people with disabilities. It is an honor to be part of this initiative in partnership with the State Commissionerate for the Welfare of the Differently Abled. We invite people with disabilities, caregivers, and professionals working in this domain for a hands-on experience of the assistive devices displayed at the Museum”
With more than 250 products from local and global brands on display, the Museum of Possibilities is a dynamic space which will continue to evolve as new technologies and aids become available. Voice technologies, such as Alexa, can assist people with mobility and vision related disability issues to control smart home appliances such as TV, lights, etc. from across the room with simple voice commands to Alexa and be more independent and make the space accessible for all.
Each section in the 2,500-sq-ft Museum showcases accessible products that people with disabilities can integrate in their daily lives in the domains of Live, Work and Play:
The ‘Live’ area includes a model accessible home with Universal Design elements and assistive devices for each part of the house – Living room, Kitchen, Dining, Bedroom and Bathroom.
- The bedroom includes a bedside touch lamp, and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom with modifications. It also has an Amazon Echo Show and allows visitors to engage with Alexa hands-free for controlling smart bulb, listening to music, stories from Audible Suno, set alarms, reminders, news updates, watch videos, ask for information and more.
- The kitchen area displays products like adaptive knives, plates, spoons, cups, and bottles. The Echo Dot smart speaker placed here can be used to set cooking timers, answer queries about ingredients and nutrition in food items, calculate conversions for cooking, and ask Alexa for recipes.
The ‘Work’ area displays equipment like a weaving loom, medical apparatus with auditory output, screen reading applications, speech to text software, modified glasses, and a weighing machine that reads out the weight. An Echo Dot smart speaker placed in a cubicle here can be used to listen to news summaries from popular providers, keep a track of to-do list, set reminders and be more productive.
The ‘Play’ domain can be experienced across the Museum. It includes board games and cards (with braille), musical instruments, and adaptive garden tools. Alexa-enabled smart speakers placed throughout the Museum can be used to enjoy music, games, and jokes with simple voice commands.