Seeing AI: Giving Sight to the Blind

Unless you’ve been living under a rock today, you’ve likely seen the brand new app by Microsoft called Seeing AI.  If you are not familiar this powerful app for the blind allows immediate access to information in your environment that has traditionally been difficult for those of us with visual impairments to access.  The app is in one word amazing and I will walk you through all of the great features below.

 

Overview

 

The main interface of Seeing AI is very simple to navigate and learn.  When you first launch the app, you will be given a brief tutorial on the app’s features and then you will be taken to the main screen.

 

On the main screen you will find the Menu button, a Quick Help Button, a button to pause announcements and the Channel slider.  Depending on the option you are in, you will also have an option to take a picture.

 

Channels

 

Seeing AI has the ability to provide text feedback in a variety of situations.  These situations are called channels.  The various channels include short text, document, product, person and scene (which is in beta mode right now).

 

Short Text

 

The short text channel is one of my favorite features of Seeing AI.  This channel allows for you to hear text found on a document in real time without having to take a picture.  Simply point your camera at an item with text on it and seconds later you will hear Voice Over read aloud what is under the camera.  This channel is great for really quick paper identification and for reading signs quickly on the go.

 

Document

 

This channel allows for you to take a picture of an entire page while maintaining the formatting of the document.  The easiest way to take a picture of a document in this mode is to place the camera in the middle of the page and slowly raise it.  Seeing AI will state which corners of the document are visible and when the document is in focus it will say Hold Steady and automatically take the picture for you.  And as a bonus if the document has headings and tables you will be able to navigate using Voice Over gestures by heading and table.

 

Product

 

This channel is a barcode scanner.  Simply point the camera where you think a barcode may be and the app will help you with a series of beeps.  I used this to scan a box of popcorn and it was surprisingly fast.

 

Person

 

This is probably the most fun feature in the Seeing AI app.  This channel lets you take a picture of a person in front of you and it will guess their age, hair color, eyeglasses, facial hair and facial expression.  I used this with several people in my office today and it was very accurate with the exception of the ages.  Also as a bonus you can train the app to recognize familiar faces under the menu.

 

Scene

 

This channel is best for object identification as well as basic descriptions of the scene that is in front of you.  This channel is in beta right now, however, I found that overall it provided accurate descriptions of items and scenes…including my guide dog.

 

Conclusion

 

As you may be able to tell, I am super excited about this app.  This app is what we have been waiting for and I commend Microsoft for releasing such a polished product and making it absolutely free for all..Do not hesitate to download this app for your iOS device, I promise you will absolutely love it!

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