Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.
“I really do think this app will be a game changer for many as it’s just simple to use,” said Jenine Stanley, who is legally blind and reviews apps and technology for Main Menu, the American Council of the Blind’s tech radio show.
The app uses artificial intelligence and the camera on your iPhone to perform a number of useful functions:
- Reading documents, including spoken hints to capture all corners of a document so that you capture the full page. It then recognizes the structure of the document, such as headings, paragraphs and lists, allowing you to rapidly skip through the document using voiceover.
- Identifying a product based on its barcode. Move the phone’s camera over the product; beeps indicate how close the barcode is – the faster the beeps, the closer you are – until the full barcode is detected. It then snaps a photo and reads the name of the product.
- Recognizing people based on their face, and providing a description of their visual appearance, such as their gender, facial expression and other identifying characteristics.
- Recognizing images within other apps – just tap Share, and Recognize with Seeing AI.
Stanley said she was “blown away” by the speed and ease of use of the app. One of her favorite features is the Short Text channel, which reads signs, labels and other short snippets of text. “That feature alone is worth the app,” she said. “It’s also fast — almost instant.”
Because this is still a research project, there are some abilities that we consider “experimental.” One of those is the Scene channel, which uses AI to describe the photo you capture so that you have a better idea of your surrounding environment.
The Seeing AI app is available now to iOS customers in the six supported countries, with more being gradually added over time.
We would love to hear what you think! Tell us how Microsoft technology is helping you experience the world in new ways @MSFTEnable. We also love feedback and would love to know how we can continue to improve our products and services through the Disability Answer Desk (now with ASL support) and Accessibility User Voice Forum.