Google’s Action Blocks helps people with cognitive disabilities communicate

One tap gives users access to Assistant functions like calling a rideshare.

Sponsored Links

Christine Fisher
October 2, 2019 1:47 PM
In this article: gadgetry, gadgets, gear, google, mobile
NurPhoto via Getty Images
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Today, Google announced Action Blocks, a new tool for people with cognitive disabilities. The system allows users and their caregivers to add Assistant commands to the home screen of Android phones and tablets. Each command is represented by a custom image and it can be controlled with just one tap. For instance, when a user taps an Action Block icon of a cab, the system might order a rideshare. The goal is to help some of the 630 million people with some form of cognitive disability live more independently.

In some ways, Action Blocks is similar to the Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) that allow people with disabilities to communicate using pictures. But with Action Blocks, not only are individuals able to communicate, they're able to control Assistant functions. With one tap, they might call a loved one, share their location, watch a favorite show or control the lights in their home.

The product is still in the testing phase, but if you're a caregiver or family member of someone who might benefit, Google invites you to join its trusted tester program.


Turn on browser notifications to receive breaking news alerts from Engadget
You can disable notifications at any time in your settings menu.
Not now

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget