New AI powered app for the blind is a game changer

Microsoft has released a free iPhone app that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tell the blind what is around them.

If the phone is pointed at a park, the camera app, named Seeing AI, can describe how the scene looks like. Similarly, it can tell the amount of your restaurant bill or narrate just about anything it is pointed at.

“With this intelligent camera app, just hold up your phone and hear information about the world around you,” Microsoft said of its app designed to turn the “visual world into an audible experience”.

Microsoft describes Seeing AI as “a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the low vision community, this research project harnesses the power of AI to describe people, text and objects”. But Microsoft is not alone in tackling this problem. Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are working on similar projects, CNET reported.

Here is a review of the app from NextWeb:

I tried it on a bunch of objects and spaces, and the app was astonishingly quick and accurate for the most part. It managed to recognize a guitar, identified me by my face and told me just how far away I was, and even described my living room and shower with some basic details.

It was also able to read out the blurb of a book and the ingredients on a ramen packet, and even identified the contents of a photo I sent to the app from the share sheet in Twitter.


However, there have been other apps of a similar nature around for some time.

And some of them are big too like AIpoly. Aipoly has helped over 350,000 people with visual impairment explore the world through Aipoly Vision, won 12 national and international awards including the CES2017 

There have been many other apps trying to help blind people and one of the interesting ones is http://bemyeyes.com/ the app that links a blind person to a volunteer and the blind person can use the phone as a camera and the volunteer can help out the blind person to carry on his/her task.

An interesting documentary in BBC on Be My Eyes.  

Interestingly, the app has more than half a  million volunteers on the platform and around 40,000 odd visually impaired people who have registered to get help on the platform.



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