Microsoft’s new invention, “Seeing AI” supports visually impaired users by recognizing and describing what is in front of them – people, objects, scenes and much more. On July 12, the app was made available for free download in the US on iOS. Nothing is confirmed for Android users yet, but the iOS app is now available on the App Store.
The app uses AI – Artificial Intelligence – to recognize the people, objects, and scenes around them with the help of a smartphone camera. It includes facial expressions, currency and reading.
With the iOS app downloaded, the user can point their iPhone camera at a person front of them and the app will recognize and tell the user who they are and even describe their facial expression. The app can recognize people it’s seen before and can guess a stranger’s age and emotion.
Similarly, pointing the camera at a product will describe what it is. The iOS app can be used to scan barcodes to detail the product, for example. Seeing Al can even tell the user if they have moved the camera, and guide them to place it right. The most significant scenario would be recognizing US currency as it is definitely a challenge for the visually impaired to
The most significant scenario would be recognizing currency. It is definitely a challenge for the visually impaired to recognize US currency because all dollar bills are of the same size regardless of value.
To identify the world around it, the Seeing AI app uses technology similar to self-driving cars and drones. Since this function is carried out directly on the device itself, the access is stable even in non-connective areas, except situations where it has to describe the entire scene or recognize handwriting – that requires a connection to the cloud.
Saqib Shaikh, the key developer behind this app, said he lost his sight at the age of seven. Last year, he says: “I teamed up with like-minded engineers to make an app which lets visual impaired know who and what is around”. All thanks to artificial intelligence – Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to integrate AI into all facets of its users.
All thanks to artificial intelligence, and it ties in perfectly with Microsoft stepping up its attempts to integrate AI into every hardware and software product it makes.
Shaikh said the iOS app can be used effectively for reading signs and menus. The app is designed to function in advanced situations by telling the user to move the camera if the object or person is not in the frame.
The Seeing AI iOS app is designed to be different and more advanced than the aids currently available for the visually impaired. The main focus was actually to have facial recognition on the device, with the response being almost spontaneous – within milliseconds.