Friday, July 14, 2017

Microsoft launches Seeing AI, an app capable of describing the world to the blind

Microsoft has released Seeing AI , an application that will undoubtedly be of great use to all blind or visually impaired people, since it uses artificial intelligence to describe everything around them, whether people or objects.
Seeing AI works in a very simple way: just point the camera at a person, for example, and the application will describe it, telling them their approximate age and even if they are smiling, or if they seem sad or angry. If it is a person you have seen before, you will recognize it, and tell the user who it is.
The app is also able to recognize objects, and even read the barcodes of products (in a supermarket, for example), and report what product is, its ingredients, and instructions for use.
You can also scan and read documents, and even be able to recognize coins and bills (at present, only from the United States), which can be really useful for a visually impaired person, since it is practically impossible to distinguish a Another only with the touch.
Seeing AI also not only recognizes people, objects or documents, it also guides the user when aiming with their camera, until the target is well focused.
Below you can see a video that demonstrates everything that this useful application can do:

Microsoft unveiled a Seeing AI prototype in March last year at its Build conference, but as of today the application is now available, free of charge, on iOS, but currently only in the United States . For now it is not known when it will reach other countries, or Android devices.
Seeing AI uses neural networks to identify the world it has around, a technology that is increasingly being used in things like self-driven cars, drones, etc. The main functions of the application are carried out directly on the device itself, which means that they can be accessed more quickly, and in situations where there is no stable internet connection. However, Seeing AI has several functions that are still in the experimental phase (such as the ability to describe a complete scene, or to be able to read a handwritten text), which require connecting to the cloud.
According to Saquib Shaikh , the head of Seeing AI technology, the difference between this application and similar ones is the speed at which neural networks work: "One of the things we wanted to do was face recognition on the device, We have done so that in a few milliseconds you will hear the result. It's all about speed, and we try to do everything we can in the device. "
Sometimes the technology can be very useful to make life easier, and this is certainly an application that will be very welcome by all people with vision difficulties.
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