Access Tech Live | 11.16.2023
- [AnnCuncer] Coming up on Access Tech Live, using ChatGPT to create accessible tools. What is Humane's AI Pin and we dive into Apple Fitness Plus with Jay Blahnik, Apple's Vice President of Fitness Technologies. - This is Access Tech Live with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. The latest in tech and accessibility every week.
Follow us and get involved now at Access Tech Live. - Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Access Tech Live. I am Steven Scott. Marc Aflalo is with me once again. Marc, how are you this week? - I can't complain. I don't know where time goes, Steven. It goes from one Thursday to the next and suddenly it's over.
I don't know what is going on here and it's not the time change, I tell you that. (laughs) - No, we maybe gained an hour, but it doesn't feel like we gained much else, to be perfectly honest in terms of time. No, you're absolutely right. It is an incredibly busy period when it comes to tech and you know what, it's so interesting, isn't it? Because technology is just moving on at such a pace at the moment and I'm just so glad we're here every week to be able to hopefully break it down for people.
- Yeah, no, I mean, I'm excited to have this privilege and I'm super excited this week in in particular Steven, because I had the opportunity to sit down with Apple's Vice President of Fitness Technologies, Jay Blahnik, and we're gonna be featuring that conversation today. All about Apple Fitness Plus. Let's say it was a long time in the making in order to get this interview done and I'm super happy with how it turned out. - Yeah, can't wait to hear about that.
Also, Bobbi Janzen is the host of Healthy At Home on AMI TV and AMI Plus. She will also be joining us to talk all about fitness. I have to say, I'm feeling a little bit out of my comfort zone if I'm honest, but we are gonna be talking about everything else that's happened this week in Tech and that is where we start with the headlines.
- [Announcer] Now, Access Tech Live headlines. - Well, we'll start with Cameron Cundiff, a self-proclaimed accessibility nerd who has built a Google Chrome extension that with one click, returns a detailed description of any image. He posted the proof of concept on a YouTube video following Open AI's announcements last week.
- So I stood up a little Chrome extension that allows you to click, describe, image in a context menu and sends it to the API for a description. And within a couple seconds, - The image shows a flat brim baseball cap with the heather gray texture. On the front of the cap there's a square leather like patch with the words New Kid stamped or embossed on it. The cap is placed on the wooden surface with some decorative patterns, which could possibly suggest it is on top of the wooden table or crate. - I have shivers right now. I can't tell you how cool this is.
- Yeah, that is super cool. And users can sign up to get in on the beta test and we'll post a link on our social media of course, after the show. You can check it out on his YouTube channel youtube.com/a11ynerd. Have a look that up Now.
Audible, Amazon's audiobook service, is making a selection of its catalog available to Air Canada passengers. As of last month, the company has made over 160 hours of its original content available, covering a wide range of topics. Here's Audible's Country Manager, Georgia Knox, breaking down the type of content you can now enjoy on flights.
- We have over 160 hours of content already on Air Canada flights, both domestically and globally. And I guess, you know, some of my favorites that are there. We have kind of Sydney Crosby, "The Rookie Year", in both English and French, which is totally awesome, especially kind of coming back into to winter and hockey season. We have a range of kind of relaxation and sleep content and that was, you know, both based on, you know, the understanding that people wanna relax on their flights. That's a bit of a no-brainer.
But also we did a kind of a recent survey in terms of like listening use cases and more than 70% of respondents agreed that they wanna listen to audiobooks and audio content for relaxation. So we have a range of meditation, self-care and sleep content available and early data is showing that's really, really popular. - New additions have been coming to the catalog every single month going forward.
Humane, a company founded by a couple who are ex Apple employees, have pulled back the curtain on what they envision as the future of AI. Humane Pin compact device is about the size of a mini hard drive, give or take, and it magnetically connects to clothing with a battery on the back and the pin on the front. Now the AI pin itself has a camera, depth sensor, all on the front, and it can project a laser ink display onto surfaces just like your hand if you're holding it in front of it. Here's co-founders, Imrani Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiornio introducing the pin and stating their mission. - This is the Humane AI pin. It's a standalone device and software platform built from the ground up for AI.
It comes in three colorways, got eclipse, lunar, and equinox. It is our aim at Humane to build for the world, not as it exists today, but as it could be tomorrow. One where we can take the full power of AI everywhere and have it weave seamlessly into our everyday lives. For us, the AI pin is just the beginning.
- So to trigger it and use it, you can simply tap it, use any gestures or simply ask it questions or give it commands. Microsoft's annual developers conference. "Ignite", kicked off this week with a big focus on AI.
No surprise there. The biggest announcements from the event include a rebranding of Bing Chat to Copilot and they officially launched Microsoft Loop. This is a productivity and collaboration app, which lets you create collaborative workspaces and pages. They better work together no matter where you are. And finally, they introduced their own AI processor, the new CP user designed for cloud workloads and will soon be rolling out to their Azure data centers.
We'll chat more about that later on in the show. And finally, Apple is extending its free emergency SOS feature for an extra year. The service debuted to the iPhone 14 and allows you to connect via satellite to emergency response when cell service is not available.
It uses short text to call for help and has already saved many lives. In Canada alone. A Bay Como guy, a resident, used the feature to connect with the first responders when he was stuck under an excavator shovel in a remote area.
A woman and her husband in Noisy Creek BC, they used it when they ended up in a ditch and got help from Vernon Search and Rescue. And while a professional climber near Chilliwak River Valley in BC, he credited the emergency SOS feature for connecting him and getting him help when he needed it after breaking an ankle high up in the mountains. So definitely a cool feature that we're seeing extended for the next year. And stories like that, Steven, are gonna be few and far between. This is only a couple in Canada, you know, local to us, but there are so many more around the world.
- Yeah, it's so incredible to see how this watch is helping people and you know, fall detection as well. I mean, you know what, we know we talk about the satellite features and all of this wonderful stuff, but for people at home, you know, perhaps you fall over at home and there's no one else there and you can't get up for whatever reason, the watch can make contact with people. You can have a set list of contacts.
It could even contact emergency services. I mean, those are great features that are built into these devices. It is incredible as well as of course, keeping an eye on your everyday health and health is a big topic on the show this week, right? Because we're talking about fitness and getting fit. Now, I dunno if there's two worst people who could be in a position to talk about this, Marc.
- Hey, speak for yourself. Wait a second. (laughs) - Okay, I'll speak for myself on this one. I am not the person to be pushing a health agenda, but you know, it is a great conversation, because it's important. You've gotta make a start somewhere.
And that is kind of where our question of the day has come from, right? Because the question of the day today on Access Tech Live is, what Tech has helped you stay active? That's a great question. - It is a good question. And you know, lots of people tell me throughout the years whether it's an app they've used or whether it's like a Fitbit or something like that. So what has helped you stay active, do let us know.
You can connect with us on all our social media platforms at Access Tech Live, of course, email. You can email us firstname.lastname@example.org and get involved. Coming up. We're gonna dive into the headlines after a quick break. And of course, Apple's Jay Blahnik is coming up as well later on.
This is Access Tech Live. - [Announcer] We want to hear from you. Follow us on social media and get involved at Access Tech Live. We'll be right back. - [Announcer] The latest in tech and accessibility.
this is "Access Tech Live" with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. (gentle bright music) - Welcome back, now lots going on this week in tech. Of course, I mean, what is new here at "Access Tech Live," it's what we talk about, but also there's no shortage of it. And some fun stories in the accessibility tech space, including Humane's new AI Pin that Marc mentioned in the headlines.
Now Marc, what do we know about this new AI device? - Well, we know it's been in development for a couple years now. This is something that first debuted on a TED Talk when the founder, Imran Chaudhri, was on stage talking about the future of AI and how they kind of see AI melting away into just our landscape. And little did we know that he was actually wearing the first prototype of the Humane AI Pin.
Now, fast forward, the pin has been completely unveiled, so we know what it looks like. So it's roughly, I guess, you know, half the size of a cell phone in terms of the height of it. It's got a row of sensors along the top and the front is just a touch pad. Now, the row of sensors includes a depth sensor, so it's able to determine what's in front of you and the distance and the shape of things. A camera, there's a microphone, and there's what they call a laser ink projector. So when you hold your hand in front of it, it can project things onto the surface of your hand, and thanks to the depth center, you can actually manipulate things, whether it's a menu, so you can tilt your hand left or right or up or down to navigate a menu.
Of course, there's audio cues that'll work throughout the entire thing, and that flat surface on the front is a touch pad. So interesting in terms of design, I mean, this is probably the closest we've seen to a "Star Trek" communicator come to life in terms of connectivity and everything that goes along with it. - Yeah, absolutely. And it's such an interesting design, as well. This is not something you carry around with you, this is something you wear. And I'd be interested to see what you think about this, because, you know, I've got my views when it comes to the accessibility and the disability angle, and we'll come to all that, but I'm interested from your perspective, is this something you would want to have considering all the other tech that's available to you right now? - Well, you know, I remember I had a couple conversations with people about this, and we were debating exactly that.
Obviously the inquisitive mind that I have, I definitely need to try this. It's priced at 700 US dollars and only available in the US to start, and it's gonna ship in early 2024. So, you know, I will order it to somewhere in the US and give it a try. It needs a data plan, so that's something else to consider, $25 a month, which is kind of interesting. In terms of the passive AI at my disposal, it is kinda cool, like, if it's constantly, you know, monitoring things around me and I can just summon things and it could learn about me, the examples that they gave when they were demonstrating this was holding, for example, a chocolate bar out in front of it saying, "Can I eat this?" It didn't have to say, "Use the camera to see what I'm talking about," it didn't have to really ask many questions. It was able to determine, okay, this is a Milky Way.
And because it knows that the user at that point in time was lactose intolerant, it actually recommended not consuming it for that reason. - [Steven] Oh, interesting. - These kind of small things are what excite me about technology like this. But the proof is in the pudding, because there's a lot of people I've talked with that say, "This is pointless," you know? "What am I gonna do? "Stick this on me when I can keep my phone in my pocket?" Or, you know, "My smartphone's on my wrist, "why can't I just do it with my smartphone?" Smartwatch, sorry. So yeah, a lot of questions, but I definitely do see the accessibility side here, and the debate online has been kind of raging in both directions, I think, right? - It has, I mean, you know, on a personal level, I think this is gonna be huge for accessibility.
Again, we haven't had much from Humane on this, and that's what's stemmed a lot of the interesting conversation online. But I think, you know, what I love about the design of this and the way that it's focused is that it's a very simple screenless design. It does have a touch element to it, but I could see this, for example, connecting to a Bluetooth keyboard or a braille display if you're a blind user, and being able to get the information audibly onto braille, that would be a really cool way to use this. I mean, we can already do that with all of our existing smartphones and computers, so it wouldn't be a huge leap to get to that level. So, you know, in terms of accessibility, I can see how it could work for us.
But I think in order to look at the functionality, I think what you have to look at is what is going on in the AI space. And I watched a video on X last night, I thought was really interesting, and it was a kind of a joke in a way, it was someone who used the voice of David Attenborough, who'd managed to get all the audio of David Attenborough into an AI, and was having David Attenborough narrate their life. Now, that was working by AI taking a picture of them every five seconds and narrating that person's existence. So saying, "Here we are, here's a homosapien "sitting, drinking, "you know, making-" - Oh, that's funny. "Allowing himself to have a drink of water," you know, whatever it was. But it kind of told me the potential that AI has for audio describing things.
Imagine it could audio describe a movie as I'm going along and I'm no longer reliant on an audio describer. How cool would that be? So lots of potential, but you're really looking into the individual examples of what people are creating using these wonderful OpenAI, for example, tools. I mean, there's Google and there's also other projects as well, Microsoft, we'll talk about.
But you know, while the launch itself has created a lot of enthusiasm, there's a lot of concern among the community, in particular, the disability community. And critics are pointing out that the company's failure to address the device's accessibility for disabled people reflects an oversight towards a significant demographic of the population, which numbers of approximately 1 billion people globally. Now, one voice in particular is that of the CEO of Pneuma Solutions, Mike Calvo. Now, in an exclusive conversation that is coming up on "Double Tap" airing Friday 17th November on AMI-audio and on podcast, Mike, who's totally blind himself, says he was personally hurt by the lack of any mention of disability or accessibility. - As a child of the 80s, it brings me back to the words of one Alanis Morissette, and that is, "Isn't it ironic?" You know, this company that calls itself Humane, and last time I checked, I am a human, and I am a human with green dollars to spend on their Humane product. Yet, I was not included in any, not even the merest of just kind of declarations of, "Hey, blind people, "we didn't have the time or the energy "or the desire to put you front and center here, "but if you wanna know what we do for blind people, "go to our website," which is totally inaccessible, by the way.
Dude, it's 2023, what the hell? It's 2023, and read the room, bro. Where are we? Who are you talking to? What have you done in your past? It's like me coming out with a product tomorrow and knowing and just totally turning my back on our community, when I've dedicated the last, almost three decades of my life to doing accessibility. - And there's more of that conversation on the "Double Tap" podcast available wherever you get your podcasts, good or bad. Also, it is broadcast live on AMI-audio every day from 12 noon Eastern and evenings at 8:00 PM Eastern, as well.
Marc, a really interesting perspective though, on this product. - Yeah, definitely, a you know what, I think that we're gonna get some answers from Humane. I know you reached out, I reached out, and we got some positive feedback in terms of talking to us. So hopefully, we'll be able to ask those hard questions and find out why it was omitted in the first place. But let's see what they envision this to be in accessibility, because I think there is so much potential and we will find out.
Speaking of potential, I wonder how this will work for fitness. And speaking of fitness, guess what? How did Apple Fitness+ come to be? We're gonna ask Apple's Vice President of Fitness Technologies next here on "Access Tech Live." Stick around. (bright music) - [Announcer] We wanna hear from you. Follow us on social media and get involved @accesstechlive.
We'll be right back. (bright upbeat music) (bright music) - [Announcer] The latest in tech and accessibility, this is Access Tech Live with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. - Welcome back to Access Tech Live with me, Steven Scott, and Marc Aflalo. Now, Apple's Fitness+ is a growing service that launched at a time when fitness services were all the rage. This one, though, has managed to outlast some of its competitors and continues to bring new features and innovation to the table.
Marc Aflalo had a rare opportunity to sit down with Apple's vice president of fitness technologies and dive into what makes the service so special. - In March, 2014, Apple first unveiled its Fitness+ platform, instantly making its service available to Apple users worldwide. Now, since that time, the platform continues to grow and is and always has been, and has always taken inclusivity to whole new levels. Joining us now is Apple's vice president of fitness technologies, joining us live from Apple's Fitness+ Studios.
Jay Blahnik, thank you so much for joining us here at Access Tech Live. - It's an honor to be here. Thank you very much for including us.
- Now, Jay, you've been at Apple since 2013, before Fitness+ was even a thing. This was before the Apple Watch was even really a thing. So I've gotta ask you, from your background and your experience, when you came to Apple, was Fitness+ something that was even on the radar? - You know, that's a great question. When I came to Apple, we were working on launching the Apple Watch, and we knew from the very beginning that this was going to be the most personal product that Apple had ever designed because you wear it on your body.
But we didn't have any notion in our mind about building out a fitness service. We were really focused on making the Apple Watch a great experience for many things. But obviously, fitness was one of the things at its core, to help people be more active, to help them measure their workouts. And we were thrilled by the response we received. Believe it or not, this coming April will be the 10th anniversary of the Apple Watch.
So time has really flown. After a few years of the Apple Watch being in the market and seeing how successful it was for our users and helping them be more active, we started hearing from our users. They were asking questions like, I love the measurement and the motivation that the watch provides me, but how do I get started in yoga? Or how do I run my first race? Or, you know, I wanna build more flexibility or more strength.
How do I do that? And we started thinking it might be a great idea to provide content that went along with the Apple Watch. At Apple, we really care deeply about not just going into areas because there's an opportunity. We really wanna go into an area when we can contribute something very unique.
And so we spent a lot of time thinking about what we can contribute. There's many great fitness services out there, and we're fans of many of them, but we really wanted to think about what we could do uniquely. And after a couple of years of really ideating on it, we came up with something that's really core of what Apple's all about. And it was based on a very simple idea.
And that is that we believe gyms and hospitals are two of the most intimidating places on the planet. And we really felt like it would be amazing if we could build a fitness service that was the most welcoming and accessible fitness service on the planet. And so we set about doing that, and that's really in line with what Apple's always been about, and it's about democratizing technology.
We really wanted to use technology to democratize fitness and wellbeing with Apple Fitness+. And it's still Apple's newest service. We've only been out a little over two years, but the response has been incredible and we're thrilled. And of course, as you know, it started as something where you needed an Apple Watch, but now the service has expanded to invite even users in that just have an iPhone.
- Yeah, and using the service without actually needing the hardware is actually opening the door to a whole new audience. And I can see the use cases right there as well. And of course, especially with people with iPhones, because they can do it from anywhere, whether they're traveling, on the road, etc., etc. I've gotta ask you something because from the get go, and anybody who tunes into Fitness+, any program, you'll notice right from the beginning, there's sign language, there's inclusivity, there's people without limbs, and that representation has been there since the start.
When you developed this service, when you were thinking of Fitness+ as a whole, was that representation important from the start or is it something that developed over time? - Well, you know, our North Star, as I mentioned, was always about making and building a service that was the most welcoming and inclusive service on the planet. And, you know, at the core of the service, as you know, are the trainers. And so when we went about recruiting the team of trainers to be a part of Apple Fitness+, we really wanted to think deeply about how to make sure that everyone in the service would feel seen and heard and see that in their trainers. And so we obviously recruited trainers that were incredible experts, that were masters at their craft, but one of the things that was very important to us was that they also had a real heart for the beginner.
And to us, that does not just mean a beginner who might be new to fitness or new to meditation, but anyone trying something new. So for example, we hear all the time where you might be a really fast runner coming into the service, you might be an elite runner, but if you're brand new to yoga, you demonstrate all the same, you know, intimidation feelings with yoga as any beginner might that's maybe not even worked out before. And so we wanted a team that really had a heart for the beginner in whatever that meant to our users. And then we also wanted to make sure that the team represented all walks of life.
And so we're the only fitness service that has trainers in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, even one approaching 70. All shapes and sizes, many of them have been in fitness and sport their whole life. But we felt it was really important to have trainers that have also been on their own fitness and wellbeing journey and maybe came to fitness later in life because they can bring that to their experience as a trainer in the service. And we love hearing that you notice it. We hear all the time from our users, that they notice it as well.
It's a big part of what makes the service tick, is just knowing that when you see the trainers working together, that we're doing our best to try to make everyone feel included. - Yeah, and Jay, you really do feel that. You really feel that it's just catered to absolutely everybody. And that's important too because there are so many different types of people out there with different levels of experience who want a harder workout, a softer workout. And in every program that I see on Apple Fitness+, you're catering to all the different levels at the same time, which is a unique challenge.
But at the same time, you guys do it quite intelligently, and it doesn't come across as something that's just overly in your face. So I'm curious, how do you develop these programs knowing that the audience is not gonna be all at the same levels? How do you make sure that you're catering to everybody you could possibly be tuning in at any given point in time? - We love hearing that feedback. Thank you. Yeah, you know, it's on our mind every single day that we're in the studio because every single workout and meditation is crafted to try to make sure it's as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
You know, one of the things that makes the service unique for those that haven't tried it is the first service where the trainers actually appear in the background of each other's workouts. So you may come in thinking that you're going to do a yoga class with Jessica or Dice, and you'll see one of the other trainers in the background. And that does two things.
Number one, it allows you to really feel the brain trust of the whole trainer team, the motivation and inspiration from the whole trainer team, which does encourage you to try other things. You almost feel like you get a chance to meet them before you venture into, let's say, a new workout type or meditation. But the other thing it does is it allows us to ensure that there's always one trainer in the video demonstrating a modification for someone who may not be able to keep up with that particular move or with the entire workout. And so if you're brand new to yoga, you can always keep your eye on the trainer who's on the left because they will be demonstrating an easier version of the move that you just saw.
So whether it's something where you might be struggling with your balance, or maybe you're just not flexible, or you don't have the strength to do it, you'll always know that one of the trainers has got your back. And our users tell us all the time, they love seeing that mix of trainers doing that. Oftentimes, the trainer's doing a modification because they themselves need to make that modification, and it really makes them feel even more human and really connected to our users. So, you know, you might see in a HIIT workout that Greg is not jumping, he's one of our strength trainers, and that's because jumping is not comfortable for him. He may also be the walker in a treadmill workout. And that really sends the message, which is important to us that everyone's welcome.
We are all on our own journey, and we're at different levels of that journey, and it's all okay. The other thing that you may have noticed, and something that was really important to our trainer team from the very beginning was they all, before the service launched, they all began learning sign language, and they take lessons every single week, and they have so since the service launched. And they use that sign language in their openings throughout the workout, in their closing, for their inspirational moments, those power phrasers, power phases that every trainer has. And we worked with our accessibility teams, and, you know, what they told us was it wasn't essential to use sign language throughout the entire workout or meditation because obviously, it's a visual medium and you can follow what the trainer's doing. But that it was a really important way to send the message that if you were hard of hearing or Deaf, that you were also welcome, and that it was an important place for you to be able to, it was an important way for you to be able to see that.
And we hear all the time from our users that say they love seeing that 'cause it reminds them that this is a place where everyone's welcome. The trainers even do something else that's really, really great. And that is they've learned special techniques to teach with just their voice in case you are low vision or are blind. You'll even see them in the rehearsal space inside the studio where oftentimes, the lead trainer will be in front of a curtain, and the background trainers will be on the other side of the curtain, and they will be attempting to cue their workout where the trainers can't actually see what the trainer's doing. And we're looking to see whether or not the words resonate in a way that allow you to actually follow along.
And so those are just a few examples. We're constantly pushing on as many things as we can do to make the service as accessible as possible. We know it's a journey, not a destination.
We'll continue to keep doing everything we can, but we're really thrilled about the response we've received so far. - Jay, when you pair an Apple Watch with the service, and you use that as a companion to your workout, it takes things to a whole new level with Fitness+ as a whole. Was the integration of the Watch part of the plan from the start? Or could this service have stood alone on its own? - Yeah, it's a great question. We did build the service around the Apple Watch from the beginning because we knew a lot about what people were reacting to on the Apple Watch. We knew they loved metrics as motivation.
They really loved motivational nudges on the Watch, and we wanted to bring all of that to the service. And we knew that while you were doing your workout or meditation, you may wanna see the same metrics that you normally see on your Watch up on the screen. So for us, it was a really obvious decision to integrate the Apple Watch and make it really simple to, you know, do simple things like use it as a remote control if you were doing the workouts in front of Apple TV, but also to make sure that you didn't have to look down at your wrist to see what your watch was measuring. What we heard after we launched was that there were many people that said, you know, the Apple Watch seems great, but I'm not a watch wearer or I'm never gonna buy an Apple Watch, and I'd really like to use the service.
Or people that were a part of a family plan where maybe some people had a watch and others in the family did not. And so just in the spirit of accessibility, we wanted to make it available to even more people. And so last year, we made it possible for people to use it even without an Apple Watch. And so the way I like to think of it is a great experience without the Apple Watch, great content, great motivation, and then it's kind of supercharged when you include the Apple Watch. - Do your trainers get feedback from the audience and the people that use them? I know that often people who use services like Fitness+ really form a bond with the trainer and they tend to follow that trainer or, you know, those particular people that they like.
Do you find that the audience or fans are actually reaching out to yourself and trainers and giving you great accolades and telling you fun stories about their experiences? - Yes. You know, one thing that's unique about our service is that while we obviously get customer letters about all of our great products and people write to Apple, with Apple Fitness+, our users tend to write directly to the trainers on social media. And so every single day, the trainers spend time looking at their social media and seeing the letter or the direct messages and the feedback they get from the users that love the workouts. And so we're inspired every day by those messages. I remember we received one from someone that was participating in our rowing workouts with Josh Crosby, one of our trainers for rowing. And he's blind, and he'd said he'd never had an experience where he was able to do this, but he's now an avid user of the rowing workouts with Josh.
And he talked about how he was able to follow along with the great queuing and found it incredibly motivating. The stories like that really inspire us, but we also hear every day from users that will say simple things like, "I was on medication before I started exercising "and meditating on Apple Fitness+, "and I've been able to either lower that medication "or eliminate it completely." Or, "I wasn't able to get down on the floor "and play with my kids, "and I found myself missing out "on activities with my family, "and now I'm able to be more mobile and get around "and do all the things that I love."
And so for us, while we, of course, love people reaching their fitness goals, you know, they might lose weight, or they might run their first race, we are really inspired by the fact that almost all of our user messages lead with something like, I feel better. It's so amazing to see a trainer that looks like me. I'm emotionally in a better place. My mental health is better. And for us, that's really what gets us up every day. It's really why we created this service and why we'll continue to push on making it as inclusive as possible.
- Jay, I tip my hats off to, of course, yourself, and, of course, all the trainers and everybody involved in Fitness+. And I wanna thank you for taking the time to join us. I know you've got a super busy schedule, but we really do appreciate it here on Access Tech Live. - Thank you very much for having us, and also congratulations to you for all the great work you're doing.
- That is Apple's vice president of fitness technologies, Jay Blahnik, here on Access Tech Live. And special thanks to, obviously, everybody who helped put together that interview, lots of people involved. When we return, we're gonna welcome Bobbi Janzen to the program, the host of "Healthy At Home." She'll be giving us her opinion on fitness programs and software just like Apple Fitness+, as well as some tips to get in shape just in time for the holidays. - Stick around.
(bright music) - [Announcer] We wanna hear from you. Follow us on social media and get involved at Access Tech Live. We'll be right back. (upbeat music) - [Announcer] The latest in tech and accessibility. This is Access Tech Live with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. (upbeat music) - Welcome back to Access Tech Live.
Now, getting fit is normally a New Year's resolution, but look, we all know how those typically end up at. Joining us now is a successful personal instructor and group fitness instructor with a real passion for making fitness accessible. I can't wait to get advice from Bobbi Janzen who joins us here on Access Take Live, who also happens to be the host of Healthy At Home right here on AMI TV. Bobbi, first up, thank you so much for joining us. - Thank you, nice to be here.
- Now tell us about your fitness journey. When did making fitness accessible become your passion and why? - Oh boy, it's been a very long time. I think probably around the time, so I have, I have two children, so the time I had my second daughter, I had lost a significant portion of sight afterwards and I felt very limited. I was pretty blue. My husband ended up signing me up for a yoga class and physically took me there, put me in the yoga class and said, "I'll see you later."
I was not very, very impressed with him at the time. I ended up loving it and I realized what was missing. So the instructor I had at that time talked through everything. I didn't need to see her to do the thing, do all the things that everybody else was doing.
So I fell in love there and decided that this is what needs, it needs to be shared with the world. I wanna do all the things that I had been missing out on because they were not accessible. So I made it my goal to try and make different activities, different types of fitness accessible for other people to enjoy. And that's been a 20 year journey.
- And it's been a great journey. Bobbi, I mean we, you know, watch Healthy At Home all the time and how you take us through every, every exercise is absolutely insane and so super describe. Prior to you coming on, we had Jay Blahnik, who's the vice president of Fitness Technologies over at Apple, small company. You know, they launched Apple Fitness Plus several years ago. And I'm curious to get your feedback on services like Apple Fitness Plus. - I think they have changed and revolutionized the fitness game.
Absolutely, because you can do this. Any type of exercise or work workout that's programmed into these apps and tech anywhere where you might be in your office, outside, they have come a long way as far as accessibility too, I do think there's a long way yet to go in creating a fully accessible experience and workout or workouts I should say, so that it's so people that are experiencing disability have choice. But I like the fact that you don't have to go to the gym. I don't have to go to the gym.
If I'm uncomfortable there, I can do exercise wherever I might be. So I think they are great. They definitely have a place, but I'm a creature of habit too, so they also give some variety. It just depends what you want from your workout, I think. - Now Bobbi, you know, you've just basically summed up the raison d'être for Healthy At Home, right? Which specifically showcases exercise routines and tools like meditation for people with disabilities.
How do you design routines that cater to all of the different types of people that might be watching? - It definitely takes some thought. I take some exercises that I might enjoy and some that I don't. I'll be very real. There's some exercises I don't love, but other people out there might like them.
And then I put myself in someone's shoes. What might they need to be successful in a workout routine? Is it just described? Is it switching to an arm's only version? Is it switching to one that has less impact? So I try and take all the factors in. I put it out there for some feedback from some other people in the community as well to make sure I'm on target.
And then I think how can we make this at least enjoyable too for all? And then we put it together. - Bobbi, you know, people often think about getting fit, they think about the physical aspects of it, but there is a big piece of the puzzle. I think especially during the pandemic, we learned about our mental health and mental fitness. Is it as important or even more important than the physical aspect of it? - They are so closely linked. Taking care of your whole self is very, very important. And that might be meditation for some people.
Some people might hate it. For me, running is meditation, so that is a tool I use. It's something I can clear my mind with.
So it might look different for everyone, but it's kind of like we were this whole perfect package and we need that physical and that mental side. It might be taking more time to read a book. It might be going outside spending time.
I have my retired guide dog on my feet right now. So that's one thing that is makes me feel good. So doing things that make you feel good and reduce any stress you might have, that's where that linkage can come between movement and mental health as well. - And there is another aspect to this, which I know only too well about, and that is the importance of diet when it comes to keeping fit as well.
You know, we see so many apps to monitor what we eat and you know, actually track what we eat as well. - Yep, there another whole component. But we also need to give ourselves some kindness too. We have to show kindness, we are human. I don't eat things that I don't like. It doesn't mean I live on cookies, but there is a time for cookies, trust me.
- Well, I know. - Definitely a time for cookies, but we have to fuel ourselves too. So I look at that as well, what foods make me feel crappy, I eliminate those or limit them. Having conversation with a dietician, I stay in touch with one to make sure that I'm on track as my activities change.
Sometimes my dietary needs change, so I consult different professionals when it comes to that, but food does fuel the body and sometimes we have to look at it as we need that good high octane fuel in order to move better. And sometimes, sometimes we need a cookie. - Abby, is it urban legend, or a myth that over 50, your diet or even cardio for that matter, isn't as important towards keeping a healthy lifestyle? - Oh my goodness, that is a huge myth. Over time, our needs do change, absolutely. Our activity levels change.
The types of activities we do change and we have to fuel that appropriately too. But movement is still important and fueling properly is still important no matter what age you are. And bringing joy in with that can just, it makes it all so much more worth it.
- Yeah, you know, when it comes to modifying exercise and diet, you know, I'll have to throw that urban legend out the window there. So, we'll keep focusing on my diet a bit. You know, in my experience, I've got a torn meniscus, so I can't use my knees the same way someone else might do a specific exercise. I'm curious when it comes to actually modifying exercises for different people's different disabilities, different uses of different limbs, I can imagine that's not the easiest thing to necessarily portray, but there is always a solution, is there not? To doing one exercise a different way, just because you can't necessarily, for example, in my case, use my knees the same way.
- I believe there is. We don't use the word can't in my house because it is, becomes a challenge for me as soon as somebody tells me I can't do something. So that's a big thing that's shown me to find different ways.
So it can be, it's a good challenge for me when someone says, you know, this type of exercise isn't gonna work. How can I still stay moving and focus on getting stronger or keeping moving? We just kind of take a look at what, I put myself in the person's shoes and sometimes quite literally, I'm gonna, I'm gonna sit and I know I need to do this exercise. What can I do differently? So it takes a little bit of thinking and reworking as well as it takes an awful lot of talking to talk through an exercise that has maybe multiple modifications, but it is completely doable. - Yeah, and it's interesting, you know, Marc talks about his knees and I've often thought about, you know, just walking even generally for me as someone who's blind is actually very difficult.
I do find it challenging just going for a walk and not in the sense of walking, but in the sense of getting use out of my walk. What advice could you give to me in that case to be able to not necessarily go to a gym, I'm not into that either. I'd rather work from home and do this kind of thing. What advice would you give to someone like me in that situation.
- If that's where you wanna be, find your joy first, find what, where you're comfortable, your comfort level. The number one advice I can give for walking is really make sure you have a, you do some core exercises because I've taken my white cane to the gut so many times when it gets stuck in a crack in the sidewalk or when it snows. So I know the importance of the strong core to stay moving, but if it's walking that makes you happy, how can you vary that walk? How can you maybe change some cadence? How can you vary the duration that you walk? How can you maybe add a treadmill, walk to that with an incline so that it's that safety measure if you're not familiar with certain areas or walk with a buddy, but stick with the things that you like.
And then maybe add some different challenges. Try to step outside of the box, but I never say, let's just jump outside of the box first and do something, all the things you're uncomfortable with. And then we'll go back to say walking more, wheeling later.
So start off with what you're comfortable with and then build in some different aspects. So you can take some experts from healthy at home to develop the things that you might need for a walking workout as well. - Oh, I like that.
Look at the callback, Bobbi, you know, we talked about it when we introduced you. You know, a good number of folks I think around the world use New Year's Eve as an opportunity to say, okay, we're gonna get fit and stick to this New Year's resolution. We're talking about it a bit earlier with the hopes that maybe if we don't focus on a specific day, maybe people will actually stick with it a bit longer. So I've gotta ask you before we let you go, what are your top three kind of quick tips for actually staying fit and sticking with it in the new year? - First of all, I don't believe in New Year's resolutions because it seems to set people up for failure and then they feel like they've let themselves down. So make it a year round goal.
So that would be number one. Number two, find that thing that you love or that you wanna try, so you're gonna stick to it a little bit better. And three, small changes. We don't reinvent the wheel overnight. So if it's something in diet that you wanna work on, implement, you can work with a dietician and just implement some small changes that can maybe fuel you better.
But set yourself up for success. Small steps, something you love and make it year long so you're not just focusing on that date. - Bobbi, thank you so much for coming on and telling us your thoughts on all of this. - Thank you.
- I've taken a lot away from this, so thank you for that. That is Bobbi Janzen host of Healthy At Home, which you can find on a AMI Plus right now. - And coming up here at Access Tech Live, we're gonna talk all about your questions or your answers to the question of the week, which is what tele-tech has helped you stay active or maybe get fit? When we come back, we will field your answers right here on Access Tech Live, stick around. - [Announcer] We want to hear from you, follow us on social media and get involved at Access Tech Live. We'll be right back. (upbeat music) - [Announcer] The latest in tech and accessibility.
This is Access Tech Live with Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo. (upbeat music) - Hey, guys, welcome back to Access Tech Live here on AMI TV, Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo with you here. Time to recap the question of the day today. Marc, what was that question we were asking people? - What technology has helped you stay active or get in shape or, I mean, you could spin this in any way you want.
You could have AI rephrase it if you'd like, but the question remains the same, which is what tech has helped you stay active or maybe even get in shape? And before I even dive into some of the feedback, I'm curious what your answer is, Mr. Scott, because I know that there is some tech that you've played with. - Well, yeah, and I've tried Apple Fitness Plus, because of course, as we heard earlier, fully accessible and a brilliant thing. But you know, I have to be honest, I'm not Mr. Fitness.
I'm not gonna sit here and pretend otherwise, but there is an app that I have used a lot, which I get ridiculed by because of the way I say it, because it's called Calm, that's how I say it, C A L M. You might say it differently. I get ridiculed because of my ridiculous accent. But Calm is essentially a meditation, a relaxation app. It's brilliant if you struggle to get to sleep at night.
You can just put this on, and it will send you off to sleep with lovely stories, beautiful soundscapes. It's a wonderful app, and it's one I've been really enjoying. - Here in Canada, we say Calm. Calm, yes, the-- - I call it camm. - Yes, the L is slightly silent, but we give it, Kevin, you wrote to us, he goes, "My Fitbit and the MyFitnessPal app.
Without them, I'd still be 280 pounds. Now I'm 170". That, I mean, that's a pretty big shift. But I, you know, my challenge has always been sticking with something.
A lot of these apps count calories and give you these goals, but you gotta find one that really, I almost wanna try one of these hypnosis ones and see if they work, even though I don't think I'm necessarily susceptible to that. But hey, why not? - Look into my eyes, Marc, look into my eyes, not around the eyes, look into my eyes. - Everything's spinning. Wendy and Jessica shared the same response.
And that is, "Peloton", another ecosystem, especially around the bike and the rower. My wife loves Peloton. She's a Peloton rider for a very long time, and she raves about it. I've tried it, and my bum just hurts. I just, I'm sorry, I don't know what it's about the bike. - [Steven] Oversharing.
- I can't-- - That's TMI, Marc. TMI. - Is that oversharing? It's a real struggle, Steven. It's a real struggle. David wrote us on X, he goes, "Easy, Apple watch".
I mean, I think a lot of people are gonna answer the Apple watch. Do you find it's getting better? Like do you find it's getting better on the fitness side of things? Like it'll remind you about water and standing and stuff like that, which I find less annoying these days. - Yeah, I think because we're getting used to it.
And I also wanna mention, because Fitbit was mentioned as well, and it's more accessible now, because on the new Google Pixel Watch 2, Fitbit has that integration and it's all accessible. So another great thing. Peloton accessible as well, with the screen reader built in. - [Marc] Yeah. - These are all great ideas.
- It's just not available in Quebec, unfortunately, Peloton, you have to go across the border, but that's another conversation entirely. Tim writes us, he goes, "My wife's cattle prod". I mean, I don't think you could buy that off the shelf, but, but, we'll go with it. And Lynn writes, "To be honest, it's my low tech white cane and used to be soundscape, which allowed me to explore new areas using a beacon on a known area".
Of course, listen, accessible apps and everything. It's lots of, lots of cool stuff there. And the last one comes from Becki. "Ironically, my iPhone.
I use it for navigation to go for walks. I use it to connect my aftershocks too. And hypothetically I could use it to navigate my way to the gym." Well-- - Yeah-- - That seems to wrap it up. - Who can do that. [Marc Laughs] - Yeah, I don't think-- - Thanks, everybody.
- the technology seems to push people away from technology. - Yeah. - This is away from the gym. - Thank you all for being here this week. Thank you to Jay Blanik and of course, Bobby Janzen. On behalf of Steven Scott, I'm Marc Aflalo.
Stick around. We'll see you next week. - [Announcer] Thanks for tuning in to Access Tech Live. Follow us online at all social media at Access Tech Live.
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