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Vodacom debuts SMS service for hearing impaired

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Vodacom has launched South Africa’s first SMS Emergency Service for deaf, hearing and speech impaired customers.

The Vodacom 082 112 SMS Emergency Service is free and provided for Vodacom Prepaid, Contract and Top Up customers who are Deaf, hearing and speech impaired.

The service addresses a serious need that currently exists in the market. Previously deaf and hearing impaired persons were unable to contact an emergency service centre, as it could only be accessed via voice calls.

The new Vodacom 082 112 SMS Emergency Service now provides these customers with the option to request emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance services by sending an SMS to 082 112.  In order to use this new service, customers need only register their details by sending an SMS to 082 112.

Karen Smit, Vodacom Principal Specialist for Specific Needs, says that this is a first for South Africa and the continent and continues on Vodacom’s promise to provide peace of mind for deaf and hearing impaired persons.

“We are confident that this initiative will assist in promoting the ability to communicate for deaf and hearing impaired customers through digital inclusion as they can now request help should they experience an emergency situation. Vodacom is committed to adding value and we are excited to be able to offer this service to some of our more vulnerable customers.”

Vodacom has been providing accessible products and services to customers with disabilities since 2004. The Specific Needs division has received a number of accolades including the Change Agents and Disability Champion amongst South Africans Award at the Human Rights Summit from the Disability Alliance (SADA). This award recognises Vodacom for being fully engaged and innovative in the process of accessible and affordable ICT in South Africa.

As part of the group’s CARE initiative and inclusion strategy, Vodacom has over the years developed a number of products and revamped its service models to cater for the disability and elderly segment of the market. Some of the targeted products and specialists services offered on the network include; a device repair priority process, easy to use devices with a big keypad and inclusive design smartphones. The device repair priority process enables disabled customers to have their devices repaired in a shorter period of time. The phones with a big keypad cater for the elderly and allows them to easily see the keypad and words when typing. A large range of inclusive design electronic devices have built-in text-to-speech software that makes them accessible to visually impaired persons.

Another innovation is the HearZA app which was developed in partnership with the University of Pretoria. HearZA is a smartphone-based national hearing test app. The app helps with early detection of hearing problems which is essential in mitigating possible hearing losses. Vodacom further meets the needs of deaf and hearing impaired customers by providing them with special contract phone deals that consist of data and SMS, without minutes.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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