Saturday, 23 September, 2017

Microsoft launches iPhone app that narrates the world for blind people

Microsoft launches iPhone app that narrates the world for blind people Microsoft's new Seeing AI app describes the world for the blind
Heather Davidson | 13 July, 2017, 00:29

Microsoft's Seeing AI app, which relies on the iPhone camera, can read out short snippets of text, describe people, identify products and currency denominations, and take a stab at identifying the objects in a person's surroundings.

In my testing of the app, it's far from flawless in its ability to identify things, but it has done a solid job all-around.

The app is iOS only right now, and is only available in certain Apple App Stores (US, Canada, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore), but Microsoft is promising that it will come soon to other countries.

Read text quickly. Hear short amounts of text instantly and get audio guidance to capture full documents.

It can also describe images in other apps, such as identifying images on Twitter.

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The free app, which is now iOS-only, is a free download from the App Store. As all dollar bills are the same size and color regardless of value, spotting the difference can be hard or even impossible for the visually impaired. To that end, the software giant reorganized its AI efforts previous year, with the formation of the Microsoft AI and Research Group. The app emits a series of beeps to indicate how close the viewfinder is to the barcode, helping users align the camera properly. Recognize and locate the faces of people you're with, as well as facial characteristics, approximate age, emotion, and more.

This feature will be useful for United States currency, as all USA dollar bills are the same size and hard to identify for the visually impaired.

Microsoft also said it will be developing a set of design guidelines for AI-infused features in products to ensure a greater degree of transparency and to emphasize ethics. The first experimental feature is scene descriptions.

Microsoft is putting its artificial intelligence technology to work to help the visually impaired.

The Seeing AI app is very simple to use. "As the research progresses, more channels may be added", the developers say via the app description.

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