Google Makes Google Assistant ‘More Accessible For More People’ With New Tobii Dynavox Partnership

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Google on Tuesday announced a new collaboration with Swedish technology maker Tobii Dynavox that brings Google Assistant to Dynavox’s devices and mobile apps.

In Google’s blog post, product manager Praveen Chandran wrote the company has worked with Dynavox to integrate Google Assistant into the latter’s Snap Core First software. Snap Core is a symbol-based application that enables the communicatively impaired with a means of communication using simple, icon-like pictures similar to PECS. But it isn’t only for communication—this new functionality also allows Dynavox users to control their smart home setup and more using Google’s venerable digital assistant. Additionally, Chandran said users can benefit from the Action Blocks app, which was announced earlier this year, utilizing similar concepts. “Starting today, Tobii Dynavox’s library of tens of thousands of Picture Communication Symbols can now be used to create Action Blocks buttons,” he wrote. “[P]eople who might be accustomed to assistive technology for communication can use a familiar interface on their Android phones and tablets.”

Dynavox is a household name to people who work in accessibility-related fields such as speech pathology and special education. The company specializes in augmentative and assistive communication devices and software, colloquially known as AAC. AAC devices like those from Dynavox generally consist of eye- or head-tracking hardware run by a picture-based communication system. This technology is meant for use by individuals with certain cognitive and/or speech disabilities.

In an interview conducted over email, Tobii Dynavox CEO Fredrik Ruben told me his team had several goals in mind when collaborating with Google on bringing Assistant support to Dynavox. He acknowledged “everyone making home automation equipment today makes [their products] compatible with Google Assistant,” adding it is such a “great source” of on-demand information. Thus, the overarching goal was to provide people with communicative delays access to engage and