Seeing AI: A free, Talking Camera app for the Blind

A free iOS app from Microsoft, which was originally only available in 6 other countries, is now available in the UK and can be downloaded from the App Store.

Optimized for use with Voiceover, the app enables you to recognize:

  • Short Text – Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
  • Documents – Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting.
  • Products – Scans barcodes, using audio beeps to guide you; hear the name, and package information when available. (works with iPhone 6 and later)
  • People – Saves people’s faces so you can recognize them, and get an estimate of their age, gender, and emotions.
  • Scenes (early preview) – Hear an overall description of the scene captured.
  • Images in other apps – Just tap “Share” and “Recognize with Seeing AI” to describe images from Mail, Photos, Twitter, and more.

This is a brilliant free app and if developed further, as a great potential for assisting visually impaired people to greater independence in the future.
The quick text helps you to find and read short bursts of text quickly , whilst the document reader, when you have positioned the smart phone correctly, will automatically take the camera shot and convert the image to readable text. This seems to be equally as accessible as the most expensive scanning app currently available.
The barcode reader works well once you have located where the barcode is but a lot of the scans may come back with “unknown”, due to the current limitations in the size of its database.

The “Person” camera shot will describe the person you have taken the photograph of and then this can be labelled to recognise the person in future. Don’t be surprised if it gets the age of the person incorrectly which can create some laughs if you are sharing this with friends.
The “Scene” camera shot will describe the scene it views in front of you which will no doubt improve as the accuracy and database improves.
Overall, this is a great new development from Microsoft which is currently free for iOS user’s and the potential will be fantastic, if it can be linked to a camera on glasses similar to how the “OrCam” works.