Microsoft’s Seeing AI Mobile App Can Help Visually Impaired Users

seeing ai app by microsoft
Image Courtesy: Microsoft
In Short
  • Microsoft has baked AI into its Seeing AI app to help low-vision users see and understand the world.
  • The app is freely available on Android and iOS. It also works in offline mode except for scene detection and document reading.
  • In my testing, I found the Seeing AI app better than Google's Lookout app.

At Microsoft’s Ability Summit 2024, the company released the Seeing AI mobile app, powered by AI, on Android and iOS. The app is an effort by Microsoft to bring the latest AI advances to persons with disabilities. This app, in particular, can help visually impaired and blind users to see and understand the world using AI. It reads aloud everything around you so low-vision people can identify products, hear descriptions of photos, and much more.

The app is currently available in 33 languages, and Microsoft is planning to roll out the app in 36 languages by the end of 2024. I installed the Seeing AI app (Android / iOS — Free) on my Android smartphone. It offers several options including product discovery using barcodes, currency identification, people recognition, document reading, etc.

testing microsoft seeing ai app

What I like about this app is that you can scan photos of your friends and family and you can name each person. When you scan that person with the app, it identifies the face and reads aloud the person’s name. This is an incredibly helpful feature for blind people, assisted by AI. I also installed Google’s Lookout app (Free) but it doesn’t have an option for people identification.

In addition, you need to download country-specific data each time you want to use one of its features. That is not the case with Microsoft’s Seeing AI app. Besides that, you can identify colors, read handwritten text, and share images to let the app describe them. In my testing for handwritten text, it worked well with some minor issues.

The good part is that the Seeing AI app works in the offline mode too, except for scene detection and document reading. Overall, Microsoft’s effort to make AI a helpful tool for low-vision users is commendable. Besides AI chatbots and other applications, accessibility is an area where AI can be of tremendous help.

VIA Microsoft
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