Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects. Developed by Microsoft.
Optimised for use with VoiceOver, the app enables you to recognize:
- Short Text - Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
- Documents - Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognises the text, along with its original formatting.
- Products - Scans barcodes, using audio beeps to guide you; hear the name, and package information when available. (works with iPhone 6 and later)
- People - Saves people’s faces so you can recognize them, and get an estimate of their age, gender, and emotions.
- Scenes - Hear an overall description of the scene captured.
- Currency - Recognises currency notes. (Requires iOS 11)
- Colour - Identifies colour.
- Handwriting - Reads handwritten text, such as greeting cards
- Light - Generates an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in the surroundings.
- Images in other apps - Just tap “Share” and “Recognize with Seeing AI” to describe images from Mail, Photos, Twitter, and more.
- Photo browsing experience - Describes photos on your phone
Languages available: English, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
This app is only available for iOS, but Google has developed a similar app for Android called Lookout. Open the Lookout toolkit.
How do you use this tool?
- Install the Seeing AI app.
- A notification will ask you to allow permission to use your camera.
- Along the bottom of the screen there are icons to access each type of scanning tool (‘channels’).
- The app will read aloud the channel when you tap on it.
- There is a question mark in the upper right corner which will give you an overview of how to use the currently selected channel, e.g. Document, Product, Person, etc.
- Some of the channels will work instantly once selected (Short text, Product, Currency, Colour, Light. Where as, others require you to tap the camera shutter (Document, Person, Scene, Handwriting)
- Some channels are still in development so will show ‘Preview’ in the upper right hand corner.
In addition, you can use the photo description feature whilst using other apps. Click the ‘Share’ icon whilst in your photo gallery or social media app, tap ‘Recognise with Seeing AI’. The app will then scan the photo and describe it to you.