AccessWorld Teaser--Microsoft Seeing AI: Accessibility via Artificial Intelligence

Date Posted: 08/05/2017

by Bill Holton, AccessWorld

Microsoft has released a new iOS app called Seeing AI. It’s free, and this groundbreaking app combines the functions of nearly every accessibility app that uses your iPhone or iPad’s camera and more. Here’s what it can do:

  1. Read Text: Seeing AI includes two text OCR modes, Short Text and Document. The Document mode works like many text recognition apps, such as KNFB-Reader. Aim your camera at a page and take a photo, which is then recognized and spoken aloud. The Short Text mode turns on your camera and searches for text continuously. When it finds text it speaks it. It’s not as thorough as Document mode, but it makes going through recipe cards and the mail a breeze!
  2. Scan Bar Codes: Seeing AI does perhaps the best job of accessible bar code scanning around. It can be problematic, locating the bar code on a can or box, but Seeing AI beeps when it spots one, and as you move the camera closer the beeps grow faster until the app snaps the code and identifies that can of corn or box of cake mix.
  3. Recognize Faces: You can create a photo library of friends a family and the app will tell you when someone it recognizes is near. Snap a picture of an individual and it will estimate the age—sorry, ladies—and offer an emotion tag, such as smiling or frowning.
  4. Scenes: This is a beta feature, destined to improve with time. Snap a photo of your environment and Seeing AI will attempt to describe it. "A street corner with signs," for instance, or "Two dogs and one person on a lawn."

The app is available from the iOS App Store and Microsoft has produced an excellent YouTube introduction demonstrating all of this powerful new app's features.

Read more in the August issue of AccessWorld.

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