It's not often that speakerphones grace Engadget's pages, but Plantronics' Clarity division has created a new such device tailored to the needs of folks with mobility issues and difficulties using their hands. Called the Fortissimo, it's got an outsized LCD touchscreen for easy viewing and prodigious voice command capabilities courtesy of Plantronics' Vocalyst technology. Vocalyst lets users send emails and texts, update social networks, and access other phone functions with the spoken word, and can connect with headsets via Bluetooth. Physical phone interaction's on tap too courtesy of air switches activated by blowing on them and oversized pillow switches that are as easily hit with arms and legs as they are heads and shoulders. Lastly, there's ClarityLogic customer service that gives company reps the ability to adjust settings and upgrade Fortissimo remotely. Clarity's showing it off this week at CES, and the Fortissimo will be released this summer. PR's after the break.
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CLARITY UNVEILS NEW FORTISSIMOTM VOICE-ACTIVATED SPEAKERPHONE AT CES

New speakerphone equipped with innovative features to help 19 million who have mobility issues stay connected, engaged with friends and family

LAS VEGAS, NV – January 10, 2012 – Clarity, a division of Plantronics (NYSE: PLT) that creates smart communication solutions for seniors and others with health challenges, today at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) debuted Fortissimo, a revolutionary speakerphone with voice-activation and hands-free use designed specifically for the 19 million Americans who have mobility issues.

Fortissimo allows users to answer and operate it by speaking to the device or through a remote pendant, ideal for people who are not able to move easily or have use of their hands. Its talking caller ID and large LCD touch screen helps users identify incoming callers from a distance. Once activated, not only does the high-fidelity speakerphone provide crystal clear conversations, it is also equipped with Plantronics' Vocalyst voice service which allows users to post on Facebook and Twitter, email or text message, listen to news feeds and check the weather simply by speaking commands to Fortissimo.

"We created Fortissimo because we saw millions of Americans who needed a better way to communicate with their friends and family," said Carsten Trads, president of Clarity. "Fortissimo is for people with mobility issues-whether that is difficulty walking or severe paralysis. And it provides them with loud and clear conversations through an easy-to-use device. But what makes Fortissimo revolutionary is that it is not just about phone conversations. With Vocalyst, we are using innovative voice command software to help our customers enjoy social media and stay connected to friends and family through the same modern technologies the rest of the world has embraced."

Clarity's research and design team worked closely with the Shepherd Center, a hospital in Atlanta devoted to the medical treatment and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries. The company engineered Fortissimo to serve as the primary home phone for the 6 million in the U.S. who have some form of paralysis as a result of stroke, spinal cord injury or MS.
Fortissimo features multiple air and pillow switches, enabling users to control every function by blowing gently on the connected air sensors or touching the connected pillow with their arm, leg, head or shoulder.

With Bluetooth connectivity, Fortissimo can be operated using a wireless headset. It includes an answering machine and Clarity offers the ability to expand the Fortissimo with multiple handsets.

Additionally, the device includes ClarityLogicTM, an innovative customer service technology that allows customer representatives to remotely access and make adjustments to the Fortissimo for the user. Clarity representatives can adjust the volume, program the phonebook and make upgrades-all remotely.

"By 2030, there will be 70 million Americans age 65 and up and many will face common age-related health challenges like hearing, vision and mobility, making products like the Fortissimo in increasingly greater demand," continued Trads. "For 40 years, Clarity has been devoted to creating products for seniors and others with health challenges – a misunderstood and underserved market. The Fortissimo is our latest innovation, and it is a product that will be a tremendous ally for millions in need."

The Fortissimo will be officially available in Summer of 2012. Clarity is demonstrating the Fortissimo at CES 2012 -- booth 31119 in South Hall 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.