Android phones to use text-to-speech for emergency calls, Google says

In the event of emergencies, things can be unpredictable. But if there’s one thing that’s certain, you’ll have to contact emergency services if things get out of hand. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, yes and no. Google thinks that they can use text-to-speech technology to further streamline the process, especially if someone is injured, in a dangerous situation, or has a speech impairment.

Soon, Google will be rolling out a feature to Pixel phones and Android devices that allows users to communicate necessary details to the emergency operator—without a single word uttered. The way it works, users can tap on “Medical, “Fire”, or “Police” buttons in the Phone app, and the app uses the automated voice service to alert the operator to the type of the emergency.

Importantly, the service works even without a data connection, and users will still retain the option to speak directly with the emergency operator if they prefer. GPS location is shared with the operator, while the caller’s plus code will also be shared. This will help emergency services locate the caller.

Unfortunately (for Malaysians), the feature will only be rolled out to American users soon—and exclusively to Pixel phones, initially. The feature will then be pushed to select Android devices subsequently.

With the rhetoric that the continued advancement of AI and technology can have the potential to be dangerous—such as data breaches and misuse of data—it’s good to see the positive impact that tech can still bring.