Sunday, September 22, 2019

Text-to-speech technology for emergency calls on Google Pixel

Google is adding an automated text-to-speech feature to the Phone app on Pixel devices, enabling a one-tap system to relay location information to medical, fire, or police responders without the need for speech.

The system is simple: when on an emergency call, the Phone app will now offer three additional buttons, labeled “Medical,” “Fire,” or “Police.” Tapping the button will activate a text-to-speech feature that will read out a message informing the operator that the caller is using an automated service, describing the kind of help the caller needs and the caller’s current location. Google says that the new feature is designed for situations in which someone needs emergency services but cannot verbally communicate with an emergency call operator due to injuries, a dangerous situation, or a speech disability.

It’s an expansion of a feature Google added to its default Phone app for Pixel devices back in 2017, which would automatically display a location card on the dialing screen when calling an emergency number like 911 to make it easier to relay that information to responders directly from the phone app. The new text-to-speech system makes that even simpler by cutting out the need for the person in an emergency situation to be able to read out that information at all.

The new feature is set to roll out to Pixel phones in the US in the coming months, with “select Android devices” set to get it, too.

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