Microsoft app uses machine learning to narrate the world

20.07.2017 Technology : Digital : Media
Seeing AI by Microsoft, Global

Global – Designed to assist those that are visually impaired, the app can describe everything from text in a document to people’s emotions.

The research project, Seeing AI, has been in development since 2016. The app, now available free on iOS, initially in six countries, helps people with visual impairments to navigate and experience the world. Users hold up their phone camera to the object they want described and choose the type of description they want to hear. ‘When asking a friend, there will be different things you want to know about,’ says tech lead Saqib Shaikh.

The app is able to read short pieces of text or scan an entire document. It can also recognise people and things by storing and memorising their faces. It can distinguish facial features, estimate people’s ages and read their emotions. In addition, it is also able to recognise images in other apps such as Mail, Twitter and WhatsApp, and relay what is displayed to the user.

The Big Picture

  • As we explored in the Technology section of Implicit Inclusivity, designers are looking at how to incorporate AI into their products to improve the day-to-day experiences of people with physical disabilities
  • Some smaller brands have already innovated in this field, but as brands such as Microsoft develop consumer-facing products the technology is set to advance further
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