In our ongoing collection, High Contrast, we’re taking a look at how assistive expertise will help folks with disabilities overcome challenges of their lives, and the pioneers innovating in options to make on a regular basis instruments extra accessible.
Know-how is more and more bettering our lives by conveniently tackling menial duties – and it’s additionally serving to folks with disabilities lead extra impartial lives and enhance their ability units.
With this in thoughts, and in celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, right here’s a take a look at a few of the most modern apps and options serving to folks with visible impairment right this moment.
Fb’s AI-captioned images
Again in April 2016, Fb introduced a brand new function in its iOS app to assist visually impaired customers ‘see’ pictures.
By leveraging AI, the app is ready to robotically generate an outline of each picture a customers comes throughout.
By utilizing a display screen reader on iOS, customers can hear an inventory of things that function within the pictures, comparable to, for instance, ‘Picture could include six folks sitting on a bench and laughing.”
Subsequent up Seeing AI, an iOS app launched by Microsoft in July 2017. Appropriately described as a ‘speaking digital camera for the blind,’ the free app helps folks establish objects round them utilizing their iPhone cameras and AI. Merely level your shooter at one thing, and Seeing AI will let you know what it’s, out loud.
The app is the results of a venture at Microsoft Analysis and it’s fascinating to see how AI and machine studying may assist enhance lives each within the quick and long run.
A VR ‘canetroller’
Additionally from Microsoft, this VR haptic controller helps the visually impaired create an correct psychological map of a digital area.
Basically, the machine tries to imitate the expertise of utilizing a conventional white cane and interprets this in a digital actuality atmosphere.
To beat the necessity for visible cues, the machine makes use of vibrations and sound to simulate the impact of touching completely different digital objects. It additionally makes use of a wearable braking system to make partitions and limitations appear strong.
We coated the canetroller in February final yr, and on the time there have been nonetheless some limitations to beat – one participant discovered that the audio modelling, notably the best way sounds echoed off strong objects, wasn’t fairly sensible sufficient. However, it’s begin.
In March final yr, we wrote about Microsoft’s Soundscape app, which launched after 4 years within the making. The app, out there in iOS within the UK and the US, seeks to information visually impaired folks round cities.
However, how? Nicely, the goal is to supply 3D audio cues that assist customers discover their vacation spot but additionally making them conscious of their environment whereas they stroll to get there.
Project Torino is one more fascinating proposal by Microsoft.
The system consists of a programming languageof programming language and huge vibrant toys known as pods, which can be utilized to make songs, poems, tales, and sounds to assist kids with visible impairments to study to code.
Google’s Lookout is a nifty Android app that leverages AI and laptop imaginative and prescient to assist the visually impaired.
It works on Google’s Pixel phones, which customers can put on round their neck or inside a shirt pocket with the rear digital camera going through away from them. The app is ready to acknowledge a number of issues together with printed textual content, signage, folks, and objects. It notifies customers about places with audio cues, comparable to ‘automotive at 6 o’clock.’
Be My Eyes
Microsoft, Google, and Fb will not be the one corporations engaged on modern options to assist these with a visible impairment.
Be My Eyes, for instance, leverages the facility of group to assist visually impaired folks to attach with sighted volunteers who “lend their eyes” to assist with quick, easy duties.
The app was created by Danish founder Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who’s visually impaired himself, after he started enthusiastic about find out how to use video name expertise to create an assistive instrument. It at the moment has greater than 100,000 blind customers, and greater than 2 million volunteers throughout the globe.
All in all, it’s nice to see expertise transferring past the confines of comfort and seeing how it may be utilized for good. Know-how ought to work for us, and I, for one, am excited to see what the long run will carry.