Microsoft app helps blind people ‘see’ the world with AI :-
In this article we are reading about “Microsoft app helps blind people ‘see’ the world with AI”.
The app recognizes currency, speaks text and even identifies visual emotion.
Microsoft has launched an iPhone app designed to help blind and partially-sighted people better navigate the world. The app, Seeing AI, uses ‘computer vision’ to narrate the user’s surroundings, read text, describe scenes and even identify friends’ facial cues.
The project has been in the works since September 2016; in March this year, Microsoft demonstrated a prototype of the app for the first time. It uses neural networks, similar to the technology found in self-driving cars, to identify its environment and speak its observations out loud.
There are more than 350,000 vision impaired people in Australia and the exciting news is that advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are beginning to make their lives much richer.
The Seeing AI app, released this week by Microsoft, is poised to be a completely life-changing app for people who are vision impaired. It’s a smartphone-based narrator that can be used anywhere: people can point their smartphone at the pantry to find the vegemite, or use it to narrate a child’s homework questions.
Dave Heiner, from Microsoft, told HuffPost Australia Seeing AI started as a hack at a recent hackathon, where a group of people decided to build an app that combined a smartphone and AI vision technology.
“They realised they can hack those things together and ultimately try to give vision to the visually impaired. The Seeing AI means you can hold your phone up to a person and it can tell me what that person looks like, what their age is, the colour of their hair, whether they’re wearing glasses, whether they look happy or sad,” Heiner said.
Point your phone camera at a friend and it’ll tell you who they are. Aim it toward a short piece of text such as a name badge or room number and it’ll speak it instantly — a marked step up from the optical character recognition (OCR) technology of yore. Plus, it guides the user into capturing the object in question correctly, telling them to move the camera left or right to get the target in shot.
The app also recognizes currency, identifies products via their barcodes and, through an experimental feature, can describe entire scenes, such as a man walking a dog or food cooking on a stove. Basic tasks can be carried out directly within the app, without the need for an internet connection. It’s currently available to download for free in the US on iOS, but there’s no indication when it’ll come to other platforms or countries.
In a blog post by Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s AI and research group, the company explains that Seeing AI is “just the beginning” for this kind of AI application. Machine learning, perception and natural language processing have evolved over time into separate fields of research, it says, but “we believe AI will be even more helpful when we can create tools that combine those functions.”
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