Microsoft releases iPhone app that narrates the world for people who are blind

Americas, Assistive Technology, July 13 2017

Microsoft has released a new Seeing AI app for iPhone that uses computer vision to describe the world for people who are blind or have low vision. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.

A smart phone with Seeing AI app running and pointing towards a person at a restaurant. The app suggests she is a 25 year old woman with black hair looking happy. Credit: Tyler MussetterSeeing AI takes its name from the Microsoft research project that developed the tool. The Redmond company revealed the effort last year at its Build developer show, demonstrating how a more-developed version might help Saqib Shaikh, a software engineer for Microsoft that has been blind since he was seven. In hopes of improving the lives of people with vision disabilities, Shaikh developed Seeing AI, an app that describes scenes or imagery to the user in real time using talking computer technology.

Seeing AI joins a small group of apps designed to help people who are blind or have low vision. Most others are aimed at a single task, like identifying a color or reading text aloud.

Microsoft’s new iPhone app is available to download in six countries, including the United States, Canada, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore.

The company has not yet said whether it plans to develop an Android version. Watch the Video below:

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