This post is about setting up and using a cell phone completely hands-free. While it is heavily tailored for those with high-level disabilities it could also be very useful for anyone looking to use a cell phone hands-free while driving.
Okay, so I’ve finally found a totally hands-free way to use my Samsung Galaxy S3 by replacing the stock S-Voice with Dragon Mobile Assistant. As mentioned in my previous post, CALL TO ACTION – Completely Hands-Free Cell Phone?!? there are a couple hangups with the standard Samsung S-Voice and Android Google Now/Voice Dialer options that require the occasional home screen or Bluetooth keypress that keep them from being a viable completely hands-free solution. Dragon Mobile Assistant addresses these issues and provides a truly hands-free solution that will provide high-level quadriplegics like myself, and others with disabilities that keep them from using their hands with a true way to access their phone using only voice.
Couple caveats to keep in mind…
Complete hands-free operation quickly drained your cell phone battery. Any time you need complete hands-free response that means the device needs to be listening to you all the time. For a device that’s plugged in this is not a problem, but for a cell phone the added drain can quickly deplete the battery within hours. For my Samsung Galaxy S3 with the Dragon Mobile Assistant set to Driving Mode (always listening) that means my battery was completely drained in just over 4 hours. For this to be a viable option an upgraded battery pack or the ability to directly connect the cell phone to a wall outlet/wheelchair battery is a must.
Dragon Mobile Assistant is still in beta (under development) so there are likely to be some changes and hopefully improvements. This is a big thing here, the software is still under active development, so I hope that means it’ll see continued improvement and better integration with Android. There are a number of things that don’t seem to work exactly right, particularly when using this software with a Bluetooth headset, but if you’re using this strictly as a hands-free phone those won’t be a problem. I’ll discuss my issues at the bottom of this post. Hopefully someone from Dragon will take note of my suggestions, and even better let me be a formal tester for their products. I’ll draft up an email/make some phone calls to see!
Samsung S-Voice is tightly integrated with my Samsung Galaxy S3 and required a number of steps to disable/deactivate. This was a major hurdle I had to overcome, and at first provided the very laughable scenario of two female virtual assistants fighting for my attention. Before disabling S-Voice I could get into scenarios where both S-Voice and Dragon Mobile Assistant would be listening for me and trying to do different things. As you can imagine, sometimes two females competing over the same man don’t exactly have the desired results, so one had to go.
So you decided to go all in with Dragon Mobile Assistant… Here are the steps to make it happen.
Installing Dragon Mobile Assistant and Going Hands-Free
- Install Dragon Mobile Assistant from the Google Play store.
- Disable S-Voice home button double tap by:
- Open S-VOICE
- Press MENU button at bottom left, then SETTINGS
- Uncheck “Open Via the Home Key”
- There is a good video of this step here
- Completely disable S-Voice application by:
- Go to SETTINGS -> APPLICATION MANAGER -> ALL PROGRAMS
- Click S-VOICE, then click DISABLE
- Open Dragon Mobile Assistant
- Press MENU button at the bottom left, then SETTINGS
- Click “Background wake-up” ***this is the option that causes Dragon to always listen for “Hi Dragon” and is hugely important for hands-free operation.
- Press the BACK button at the bottom right to go back to the Dragon screen, then click the small steering wheel icon on the bottom left of the screen to activate DRIVING MODE .
And now you’re completely hands-free!
All you need to do at this point is say “Hi Dragon” and then you can say a whole range of commands, from anything like “Call Home” to “Text John I’ll see you at 9 tonight” to “Set an alarm four 7 AM” to “What are the directions to the library” among a huge list of other things. You can say “What can I say” to get a detailed list of the many possibilities. Even better is the Dragon Mobile Assistant blog which demonstrates most all of the commands with picture and video.
Here is a silly product promo video of the product in action… Wonder if it could help me pick up chicks like this guy!
Super excited I’ve finally found a completely hands-free way to use an Android cell phone. I hope what I’ve written can help some of you higher-level quads or other folks have more mobility/accessibility with your cell phones. Where the software is still in its beta stages and electronics can sometimes be flaky PLEASE DON’T USE THIS AS YOUR ONLY MEANS TO GET OUTSIDE HELP IF YOU REALLY NEED IT! I always plan on a number of backups/redundancies in case one of my ways to get help decides not to work.
I’ve used Dragon Mobile Assistant extensively over the past several days with very good success. It does what I need, understands my voice accurately, and overall works very well. It will be the solution I use every night when I Velcro my phone to the underneath of the shelf directly over my head and set it to “Driving Mode” so I can have a completely hands-free way to call out at night. There are still several things to fix, especially in Bluetooth mode, but I recommend it to any of you who’d like an option to use your cell phone completely hands-free.
And the issues I noticed with Dragon Mobile Assistant
- Always uses your phone’s speaker/microphone even if you have a Bluetooth headset paired. This doesn’t make sense, if I have a Bluetooth headset paired to my phone it would only make sense that the virtual assistant listens/speaks to me using this headset. At the very least, a long keypress of my Bluetooth headset will initiate Dragon Mobile Assistant and my phone’s internal microphone is accurate enough to dial out the right number, and then the phone call gets transferred to my Bluetooth, but this back and forth doesn’t make sense.
- I can get Dragon Mobile Assistant to start listening with a Bluetooth long keypress, but there is no way to get it to stop listening to me. With normal Bluetooth dialers you press and hold to activate the voice dialing, and if you change your mind you press and hold to stop dialing. This is not how it works with Dragon Mobile Assistant. Pressing and holding the Bluetooth activates Dragon Mobile Assistant and it doesn’t stop listening until you ask it the program.
- A Bluetooth long press does not bypass the lock screen, and if I remove the lock screen it waits for the words “Hi Dragon” to be activated. I had to deactivate my lock screen to get Dragon Mobile Assistant to work on a Bluetooth long keypress, and still, after activating it doesn’t start listening right away, but waits for me to say “Hi Dragon”. If I’m using a Bluetooth headset it should instantly start working after a Bluetooth long keypress.