Microsoft first launched Seeing AI in mid-2017 as a way to help visually impaired people interperet the world around them. Since then, the app has made its way to a few new markets, but Microsoft is now blowing the door open with news that the app is now available in 35 countries.
On top of expanded availability, Seeing AI has also received a pretty significant update to version 2.0. The app essentially works by describing people, objects, and text to the user, and this latest update builds on those capabilities. New to Seeing AI are features like color and currency recognition, as well as new options for voices and speed of reading, and more. Here's a look at all of what's new, according to Microsoft:
- Color recognition: Getting dressed in the morning just got easier with this new feature, which describes the color of objects, like garments in your closet.
- Currency recognition: Seeing AI can now recognize the currency of US dollars, Canadian dollars, British Pounds and Euros. Checking how much change is in your pocket or leaving a cash tip at a restaurant is much easier.
- Musical light detector: The app alerts you with a corresponding audible tone when you aim the phone's camera at light in the environment. A newly convenient tool so you don't have to touch hot bulbs to know that a light is switched off, or the battery pack's LED is on.
- Handwriting recognition: Expanding on the ability of the app to read printed text, such as on menus or signs, the newly improved ability to read handwriting means you can read personal notes in a greeting card, as well as printed stylized text not usually readable by optical character recognition.
- Reading documents: Seeing AI can read you the document aloud without voiceover, with synchronized word highlighting. Also, it includes the ability to change the text size on the Document channel.
- Ability to choose voices and speed: Personalization is key, and when you're not using VoiceOver, this feature lets you choose between the voice that is used and how fast it talks.
Seeing AI is still a research project, but it's an interesting look at how technology, and AI, in particular, can make the world more accessible. The only limiting factor is that Seeing AI is only available for iOS devices for now. If you want to give it a try, however, you can grab it now from the App Store.
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