“Hey Alexa, print my documents.” With voice control firmly rooted as a valid way to cue music, request a weather report, and operate lights, thermostats and other devices, Ricoh has added the capability to its line of printers. The enabling technology, Ricoh Intelligent Voice Control, is a combination of Amazon’s AWS Alexa for Business service and Ricoh’s Smart Integration Platform.
The rollout of voice-enabled products will start with Ricoh’s IM Series of intelligent multifunction printers (MFPs). A pilot program of these MFPs is currently underway at an Ivy League university.
University decision makers wanted to offer printers that can be accessed and utilized easily by everyone at the campus community—including people with visual disabilities. According to the American Community Survey, just 30.5 percent 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.
“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,” says Steven Burger, head of engineering and vice president, Portfolio Management, Ricoh USA, Inc. “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 workstyles 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, which is focused on delivering continual improvements and helping to ensure capabilities evolve in parallel with customer requirements. Future innovation is anticipated for other workplace services offerings, including Ricoh’s interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) and projectors.