Could “Hey Siri” soon be joined by “Hey Otis”?
Most people are familiar with the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention”.
The global pandemic has created all kinds of new necessities for businesses, from plexiglass screens at retail to new video-conferencing applications. Some of these, like the latter, will have positive effects for people with disabilities. Which is good, because usually it’s the other way around: many accommodations designed for people with disabilities end up benefiting everyone.
Voice to text software has become ubiquitous. Ramps from streets to sidewalks aren’t just appreciated by people with mobility issues; they’re a boon for parents with strollers, cyclists, delivery companies, and others. Silicon Valley firms, paragons of innovation, think they invented ‘bring your dog to work day’, but people with guide dogs blazed that trail long ago, thank you very much.
Voice recognition is another accommodation that has moved into the mainstream. Today, with a quick voice request, you can turn on your lights, call friends, find out how old Brad Pitt is, and play any song ever recorded through the magic of Siri, Alexa, and their siblings.
Which brings us to one of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers: Otis. Wouldn’t it be great if people could get on an elevator and say “Hey Otis, sixth floor”? Or “Hey Otis, XYZ Company,” and have the elevator magically go to the correct floor?
During times like this pandemic, it would reduce usage of a frequently-touched surface and limit the ability of germs to spread. There would be reduced wear and tear on the buttons, and less anxiety for those with fragile immune systems.
It would also enable someone in a wheelchair to get on an elevator and get to a top floor without asking for a fellow passenger’s help. Because it’s already hard enough for people with disabilities to make it to the executive floors.