Advancing Accessibility: The Ripple Effect of Recent Tech Launches

Jun 6, 2024

Written by: Alexa Orban, Director of Marketing Communications 

Let’s talk shop, shall we? Over the past few weeks, the tech scene has been buzzing with a flurry of announcements and launches shaking up the landscape. 

At the Microsoft Build Conference, developer tools and apps took the spotlight, showcasing a commitment to creating inclusive experiences through tech. Meanwhile, at Dell Technologies World, industry leaders showed us how AI is reshaping our world, from work to play, accelerating ideas into innovation like never before. At Computex 2024, the announcement of the Snapdragon X Elite marked the arrival of new intelligent experiences. 

One theme has stood out: advancements in tech accessibility. Some of these new technologies emerged with breakthroughs in hardware, AI, and partnerships making waves across the industry. From AI in making technology more accessible, to hardware innovations taking center stage, like the Surface Copilot+ and the Proteus controller for Xbox, the theme was centered towards making tech more inclusive for everyone. 

To help wrap your head around these exciting launches, I sat down with our CEO, Alex Dunn, and Director of Engineering, Jon Campbell, to discuss what these advancements mean for accessible and assistive technology.  

This Q&A session provides insights into the future of accessible tech and how Cephable is leveraging new technologies to enhance user accessibility, supported by ongoing partnerships with Microsoft and Qualcomm. 

Q: How are the latest advancements in accessible technology being integrated into existing products to enhance user accessibility? 

Jon Campbell: Generative AI offers significant potential for the accessibility space, particularly in improving input efficiency for those with mobility challenges. For instance, tools like DALL-E help translate words into images, which is beneficial for users who find direct image creation challenging. 

So that opportunity to go from being, for example, an individual musician in an orchestra, to being more like the conductor or the composer is a really powerful tool for people living with disabilities and of course, it can apply to all individuals. 

And that’s revolutionary because up until today, configuring many of these accessibility-oriented tools, like switch devices, you had to essentially learn to program in Excel. You had to build a spreadsheet with specific instructions to use this button with a particular set of keystrokes and look up those keystrokes yourself.  

With Cephable, we’ve been leveraging these new large language models to allow our users to use their own natural language to specify things like: “I want to use a particular program with these capabilities.” Cephable is then able to create a profile for them. This supports the user, helps reduce frustration, and increases the streamlining to specify how they want to use their devices. 

Q: How are NPUs (Neural Processing Units) enhancing computing capabilities for accessibility? 

Jon Campbell: The NPU is like a specialized consultant for the computer, offering tailored expertise to efficiently handle specific tasks, particularly those related to AI workloads, offering efficiency and power savings compared to general-purpose Central Processing Units (CPUs). They allow CPUs to offload heavy processing tasks, freeing up the computer for other activities. This ensures better utilization of hardware, enhancing performance and extending battery life. For assistive tech users, this means more flexibility and independence, as they are no longer tethered to a power source. 

Alex Dunn: We’ve noticed that devices with ARM64 versions of Windows, particularly those with Qualcomm’s NPUs, offer significantly longer battery life. This provides freedom for users to use their devices throughout the day without constant recharging. Early testing has shown that devices running Cephable can last a full workday on a single charge, even with intensive use of camera and voice controls. 

Q: Can you elaborate on the role of new processors, like Qualcomm’s Elite X, in enhancing accessibility? 

Alex Dunn: There’s a big opportunity to run AI workloads on your device and keep your data there, reducing your privacy footprint. So, you can be more secure and private, but it also reduces bandwidth. The new Copilot+ PCs and systems with Qualcomm NPU X Elite processors include AI-oriented coprocessors, which help lower costs and enhance privacy by creating an opportunity to bring some of these things offline. 


Q: How is Cephable integrating with new AI tools like Copilot+? 

Alex Dunn: We’re starting to explore how we can integrate Cephable controls deeper into the Copilot+ experience. Given the level of automation it can create, it plays right into the accessibility story of making things easier. Instead of more clicks, programs you have to run, movements, and voice controls, Cephable creates fewer actions to get to more useful information. 

Some interesting use cases we had in some early testing on the Copilot+ PCs were folks doing things like turning their head to the right to then open Copilot+. This creates an immersive experience because Copilot always opens to the right. 

With Cephable plus Copilot, you’re able to do things like raise your eyebrows and tell it the code you want it to write. You can then do things like another head action or tap a virtual button to confirm the changes made. It allows people to get into a workflow and build efficiently in a way that works best for them. 

Q: How has Cephable’s partnership with Qualcomm and Microsoft supported product growth? 

Jon Campbell: Working closely with Qualcomm and Microsoft has provided us with the tools and support needed to integrate cutting-edge technology into our products. Qualcomm’s AI hub has been instrumental in ensuring our applications run efficiently on their hardware. This collaboration allows us to confidently develop solutions tailored to the needs of our users. 

Alex Dunn: The ongoing support from Microsoft has also been crucial. The integration of Copilot+ into Windows and its availability across various devices means we can explore deeper interactions and more intuitive controls for our users. These partnerships enable us to leverage the latest technology to create more accessible and user-friendly experiences. 

The Future of Accessible Tech is Here 

Advancements in accessible technology showcased at events like the Microsoft Build Conference and Computex, are a step forward in making technology more inclusive. The industry is seeing the benefits of making tech more accessible for everyone. This movement will be seen in PCs, businesses, software, hardware, and any way people interact with technology. While the wave may just be growing, it’s here to stay.  

“The future of PCs is the most accessible it’s ever been. The commitment from all the different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to invest in these new AI-focused PCs from the beginning shows the commitment from the industry overall. The more that we’re able to do on a device with Cephable, the more the experiences were able to unlock for  folks and just doing that right out of the box is a pretty incredible thing that’s coming around the corner.” -Alex Dunn

How is your business creating an accessible and inclusive environment? If you need support, it’s what we’re here for.  

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