Microsoft is putting its artificial intelligence technology to work to help the visually impaired under CEO Satya Nadella. A very good initiative to help blind people see the world around them like never before.The company said that it’s releasing an iOS app called “Seeing AI” that uses an iPhone’s camera to tell people about objects in front of them. The app shows off Microsoft’s current capabilities in AI. Artificial intelligence is helping people do extraordinary things.
In March, Microsoft showed 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. Using a smartphone camera or a pair of camera-equipped smart glasses, the “Seeing AI” app can identify things in your environment – people, objects, and even emotions – to provide important context for what’s going on around you.
Microsoft first revealed the technology to an audience of developers last year, but at the time it was only shown as working on smart glasses. Now anyone with an iPhone or iPad can try it. Microsoft isn’t saying whether Seeing AI will become available on Android.
Microsoft has released “Seeing AI”, a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.
The company showed off a prototype of Seeing AI in march last year at its Build conference, but starting today, the app is available to download for free However, there’s no word yet on when it’ll come to Android or other countries.
The app works in a number of scenarios. As well as recognizing people it’s seen before and guessing strangers’ age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning bar-codes. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes US currency. This last function is a good example of how useful it can be. As all dollar bills are the same size and color regardless of value, spotting the difference can be difficult or even impossible for the visually impaired. An app like Seeing AI helps them find that information.
Speaking to The Verge at a Microsoft event in London, “Saqib Shaikh”, the tech lead on Seeing AI, said he most commonly used the app for reading documents like signs and menus. He points out the app doesn’t just perform the basic task of optical character recognition technology, but also directs the user — telling them to move the camera left or right to get the target in shot. Shaikh says that the difference between this and similar apps is the speed of the neural nets: “One of the things we wanted to do was face recognition on device, and we’ve done that so within a few milliseconds you’ll hear the result. It’s all about the speed, and we try to do as much as we can on the device.”