The advent of technology does not just mean mobile devices and cosmetic surgeries; and its use has extended to accommodate visually impaired people. Mobile applications, with the use of voice recognition and Artificial Intelligence, help to expand the advantages of technology. Blind people before now have been unable to enjoy the perks of new technology available to everyone.
Visually impaired people can now use apps like Microsoft Seeing, a talking camera app to help them read emails and other documents from their phones and laptops. This in itself helps them to feel more independent. They now do not need the help of a family or friends to read from their phone. It also means they can have their privacy.
Mobile apps are now becoming more useful and going beyond just random games and memes. App developers are now looking for ways to use apps to improve the lives of others. Accessibility has now become a staple function on devices. This was after Microsoft and Apple made it a priority about two and a half years ago. The apps use sophisticated techs like AI and voice recognition.
The World Health Organisation has as of 2018 estimated that 1.3 billion people are currently living with some form of vision impairment. Google at its I/O developer conference recently devoted a segment of its keynote to the new ways the company is tackling accessibility. The CEO, Sundar Pichai, introduced features like Live Caption that helps users transcribe audio and video. Project Euphonia was also introduced that uses AI to help people with speech impairments.
Apps like InstaCart and Money Readers help blind people to identify monetary denominations with assistance. Smart Ride also helps to navigate public transportation and use apps like Uber and Lyft.
Apps accessible to the visually impaired
A number of apps have incorporated the accessibility feature to make life easier for visually impaired people. The Be My Eyes app connects seeing users and volunteers who need assistance with video calls. The live call helps the users to check expiration dates on food, read instructions and distinguish colour.
Voice-Assistant apps and gadgets also make it very easy to do things on the web. Inbuilt ones like Google Voice Assistant and Siri makes using smartphones less of a chore for blind phone users. Most apps also now incorporate voice commands to allow ease of use.
The Seeing AI app uses artificial intelligence to read product barcodes, product names, instructions and currency. The app helps to distinguish colours and the difference between objects. It also helps users to recognise friends, describe people around them and register facial emotions. Huawei also released a Facing Emotion app early in the year. The app can identify seven different emotions with the help of AI facial recognition software.
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