Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AWS brings voice control to Ricoh workplace technology

Steve Rogerson
June 6, 2019

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping Japanese firm Ricoh empower digital workplaces and universities with voice-activated technologies.
The Ricoh intelligent voice control, the result of working with AWS, delivers intuitive voice-activated controls for Ricoh's intelligent devices, starting with its IM series of intelligent multifunction printers (MFPs). A pilot programme of these MFPs is underway at an Ivy League university, leveraging Amazon Alexa for business services combined with Ricoh's smart integration platform technology.
Available summer 2019, the platform should benefit the university community with enhanced accessibility and collaboration features.
According to the American Community Survey, just 30.5 per cent of Americans with a visual disability had full-time, full-year employment in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. At a time when Americans with disabilities are nearly three times as likely as those without a disability never to go online, making connectivity and collaboration accessible and intuitive is vital to bringing people of all abilities into the digital workplace.
Through this pilot, Ricoh is committed to delivering an accessible, easy-to-use method that could benefit all members of the campus community, ultimately enabling them to work smarter and more seamlessly.
"I am delighted to hear Alexa for Business is going to be utilised in Ricoh's new voice-controlled operation service as a new user interface for all-in-one printers," said Collin Davis, general manager for Alexa for Business at AWS. "Alexa for Business" is a service that enables organisations and employees to use Alexa to get more work done. We look forward to drastically improving productivity through our collaboration.”
Ricoh is leveraging AWS's signature low-touch ease of use capabilities to address these challenges. AWS has a long, proven history of helping organisations grow via its secure cloud services. Specifically, Amazon Alexa is available on more than 100 million devices from Amazon and third-party device manufacturers. Alexa provides a trusted, proven, hands-free interface between users and Ricoh MFPs' various capabilities, without the need for navigating visual menu options.
"Ricoh firmly believes in making education accessible for all, regardless of disability," said Steven Burger, head of engineering for Ricoh in the USA. “When this university approached us with the idea of voice controls for visually impaired users, we were excited to play a role in the important work of helping open the door for anyone with more diverse abilities. This technology has the potential to change the way millions of people collaborate and learn, and it has a myriad of office applications as well. With the introduction of voice enablement, we're expanding the ways our customers interact with their work. That means streamlining and ease of use, so people with different work styles operating in the same environment can all get the most out of their Ricoh technology. In a results-driven world full of fast-turn demands, voice controls' flexibility and efficiency are immense value-adds."
Ricoh's work with AWS is another example of the digital workplace intelligence approach Ricoh introduced earlier this year, which is focused on delivering continual improvements and helping to ensure capabilities evolve in parallel with customer requirements. Currently, the voice-controlled technology is being developed as part of the firm’s smart integration platform. The IM series of intelligent devices can take advantage of the platform and its features. Future innovation is anticipated for other workplace services offerings, including Ricoh's interactive flat panel displays and projectors.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2019, Ricoh had worldwide sales of ¥2013bn.