Digital print tech giant Ricoh has announced Ricoh Intelligent Voice Control, the result of a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its Alexa for Business voice-activated virtual assistant. The new platform is already helping visually impaired students to operate Ricoh’s multifunction printers. Ricoh says “future innovation is anticipated.”
|Amazon's voice-activated Alexa|
Ricoh Intelligent Voice Control delivers intuitive voice-activated controls for Ricoh devices, starting with the IM Series of intelligent multifunction printers (MFPs). A pilot program of these MFPs is currently underway at an Ivy League university in the US, leveraging Amazon’s AWS Alexa for Business service combined with Ricoh’s Smart Integration Platform technology.
Available [northern] summer 2019, the university community will benefit from the enhanced accessibility and collaboration features this platform will deliver, Ricoh says.
“University decision makers sought to create a more welcoming, accessible environment for the entire college community, and they knew they could rely on Ricoh’s legacy of innovation to deliver,” says a press release. “According to the American Community Survey, just 30.5% of Americans with a visual disability had full-time, full-year employment in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. At a time when Americans with disabilities are nearly three times as likely as those without a disability to never go online, making connectivity and collaboration accessible and intuitive is vital to bringing people of all abilities into the digital workplace. Through this pilot, Ricoh is committed to delivering an accessible, easy-to-use solution that could benefit all members of the campus community, ultimately enabling them to work smarter, and more seamlessly.”
Amazon Alexa Voice Service is available today on more than 100 million devices, from Amazon and third-party device manufacturers. Amazon Alexa provides a hands-free interface between users and Ricoh MFPs’ various capabilities, without the need for navigating visual menu options.
“I am delighted to hear Alexa for Business is going to be utilized in RICOH's new voice-controlled operation service, the RICOH Intelligent Voice Control, as a new user interface for all-in-one printers,” says Collin Davis, GM Alexa for Business, Amazon Web Services Inc. “Alexa for Business is a service that enables organizations and employees to use Alexa to get more work done.”
Steven Burger, head of Engineering and Vice President, Portfolio Management, Ricoh USA, said: “Ricoh firmly believes in making education accessible for all, regardless of disability. When this university approached us with the idea of voice controls for visually impaired users, we were excited to play a role in the important work of helping open the door for anyone with more diverse abilities. This technology has the potential to change the way millions of people collaborate and learn – and it has a myriad of office applications, as well. With the introduction of voice enablement, we’re expanding the ways our customers interact with their work. That means streamlining and ease of use, so people with different work styles operating in the same environment can all get the most out of their Ricoh technology. In a results-driven world full of fast-turn demands, voice controls’ flexibility and efficiency are immense value-adds.”
Ricoh’s work with AWS is another example of the Digital Workplace Intelligence approach Ricoh introduced earlier this year. Currently, the new voice-controlled technology is being developed as part of the Ricoh Smart Integration Platform. Ricoh says: “Future innovation is anticipated for other workplace services offerings, including Ricoh’s interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) and projectors, to a name a few.”