Microsoft Launches iPhone App for Low Vision Community: Seeing AI

Microsoft launches iPhone app that narrates the world for blind people

Microsoft launches iPhone app that narrates the world for blind people

Seeing AI, which Microsoft describes as a research project, is now only available on the App Store for iPhone users. Pointing it at a product's bar code will have the app describing what it is, and even provide additional information about how to use it. Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you.

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.

The app can also read text out loud when it comes into the camera's view - for example, text on an envelope or a room entrance.

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The most important difference between Seeing AI and other similar apps is that most functions, like face recognition, are carried out directly on the device, giving the app a significant speed advantage. If you'd like to give it a try yourself, you can download the iOS app here; there's no word on when an Android app may be available. The app can recognize people it has seen before and analyze facial expressions to tell you how a person is feeling. The app is also capable of recognizing currency bills and user's friends. One example shown off by Microsoft is that it can describe images on Twitter.

From a user's perspective, the app is tremendously simple to use; there's very little that needs to be done before Seeing AI can begin describing the space around you. The app emits a series of beeps to indicate how close the viewfinder is to the barcode, helping users align the camera properly.

Microsoft is putting its artificial intelligence technology to work to help the visually impaired. "As the research progresses, more channels may be added", the developers say via the app description.