Google Home Plus is a collaborative effort between designers Madi Burke, Mitzi Okou, JC Fennell, and Ken Macalino. It is an AI-powered home module device that seeks to support deaf and or hard-of-hearing individuals during emergency situations. Hearing impaired people are often overlooked in emergencies due to a lack of accomodating services, including a simplified method to call 911 as text-to-911 programs are not available in many states. Communication is also difficult as many first-responder protocol do not include interpreters, a challenge that is worsened because deafness has no tangible qualities. This becomes problematic in events like hurricane evacuations or home invasions.
To address this, Google Home Plus is designed to help the hearing impaired feel prepared in emergency situations in addition to enabling communication between first-responders. Making use of the Google Assistant, Google Home Plus helps hearing impaired people contact 911 with technology that can interpret American Sign Language (ASL) and relay it in spoken-word over the phone. In addition to allowing a deaf person to more easily articulate their emergency, the module is built with a screen that transcribes what is being spoken by a first-responder. The device also receives real-time updates of weather alerts during hurricane seasons. This both aids deaf people in emergency preparation by providing a detailed guide to necessary supplies as well as alerting deaf people early on when evacuation may be necessary.
This project was completed in an academic setting and is not actually in production by Google.
The module is accompanied with a detachable component that is also built with telecommunications technology that can interpret what a deaf person is communicating in sign language. The detachable device is also equipped to audibly speak "Hello, I am deaf", which can alert emergency services to one's condition.