Accessibility & Technology

‘Seeing AI’ Gets an Upgrade

Aug 3, 2018

‘Seeing AI’ Gets an Upgrade

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a dominant force in technology, and it’s interesting to note that people with vision loss are benefiting from this development, right up front.

In August 2017 we first reported on a new app from Microsoft called “Seeing AI,” an intelligent camera that translates images into words for people with visual impairments and blindness. It appeared to be an incredibly magnanimous gesture on the part of Microsoft because they created the app for the iPhone only. They gave it to us for free. And they promised the best is yet to come.

The upgrades have already begun to deliver.  Version 2 is now available on the App Store and it adds 4 new features, including something we’ve never experienced, a channel that reads handwriting. This is called an experimental or preview channel. the more we use it and the more we share feedback, the better it will get.

Here are the newest channels in preview for Seeing AI version 2:

  • Currency – reads paper currency, currently only in US Dollars
  • Color – identifies color quite well
  • Handwriting – text must be right side up and performs best when writing is neat and legible. You may find the accuracy disappointing, but don’t give up on it, you can help improve it.
  • Light – for people without light perception, the pitch of the tone indicates the intensity of the light.

Read our previous post “Seeing AI’ is a Gift from Microsoft” to learn more about the original channels including our favorites: Short Text and Documents. Short Text is amazingly quick and accurate at reading signs, price tags, labels, addresses, and all kinds of things you encounter on any given day.

There is just one significant downside to using the Seeing AI app. It devours battery. Although you may be tempted to leave the app running to have it readily available when you need it, we caution that you keep tabs on your battery level because it can drain rapidly. 

The Seeing AI app is available in the App Store.


Featured Image Credit | Microsoft

Originally published on January 19, 2018 and updated on August 3, 2018.

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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.



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