In the US, Microsoft has released Seeing AI, a new talking camera app for the iPhone that narrates the world around you. This app could prove to be invaluable to many blind and partially sighted people, so we found out more from tech enthusiasts Steven Scott and Scott Kayeker.
Seeing AI is like the Swiss Army knife of apps – when you launch it, you get five modes to choose from.
The first is short text mode, which you’d use for reading short pieces of text, such as on a box or sign.
The document mode allows you to take a picture, much like you would with an optical character recognition (OCR) programme. This is designed for reading printed material such as letters and books.
The product mode integrates barcode scanning and product identification. It can help you locate the barcode on an object you’re interested in. It uses proximity alerts to give an indication of where it thinks the barcode is, and it gives audible signals as you get closer to the barcode.
The person mode identifies faces in a picture or live video stream. You can 'programme in' people who you know by taking three pictures of the same person and naming them. Once you’ve done that, the app should say “Shaun, five feet away” instead of “Face, five feet away”.
The last feature is a beta one. Called the scene feature, you can take a picture and the app will describe or try to figure out what is in the picture.