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Microsoft's New iPhone App Helps the Vision Impaired Navigate the Real World

12 July 2017

As detailed on the iTunes Store listing, Microsoft says that the app "harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text, and objects by narrating the world around you". They can point it at a product and the app will tell them what that is.

Seeing AI takes its name from the Microsoft research project that developed the tool.

In March, Microsoft showed off a prototype of its Seeing AI app, which looked very promising at the time, but the company released the free app to all iOS users on Wednesday. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes United States currency.

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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. Otherwise, all you have to do to start identifying things is select from one of five different categories (the app calls them "channels") to help the app understand what type of object it needs to identify.

The app also has experimental features, such as 'scene descriptions'.

Microsoft's Seeing AI app can also work with other apps too. For example, if you point the camera at a document, it will help you align the camera by telling you any parts of it that aren't in view. Recognize and locate the faces of people you're with, as well as facial characteristics, approximate age, emotion, and more.

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The free app, which is now iOS-only, is a free download from the App Store.

Another great thing about the Seeing AI app is that most of its basic functions are made on the device itself.

Scenes (early preview) - Hear an overall description of the scene captured. It hasn't said if and when the Android version is going to be out.

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Microsoft's New iPhone App Helps the Vision Impaired Navigate the Real World