Bangaluru: The visually impaired can now make use of a descriptive app that allows them to know exactly what is around them in their immediate environment.
The app is thanks to Pavan Chitta, a 12th grade student from Greenwood High, Bangalore. Called “Bee My Guide”, the application enables the user to get an idea of the environment where the app is used. They use the app with the help of their other senses.
“I have utilised the already-existing concept of artificial intelligence. Using Bee My Guide is simple. You can take a picture of what is in front of you or rotate your phone in your immediate surroundings, and it will tell you, through speech, whatever you need to know. It also reads out text messages and mails that the user cannot see otherwise.” explained Pavan.
Bee My Guide is also packed with various other features such as My Vision, What's around Me, Find My Stuff, Check My Money, My Location and My Weather.
“The features help the user get an idea of what is in front of them. Like for instance if they want to cook something, the app will inform them of the ingredients in front of them, or if they are making a bank transaction, the app will tell them through speech, the value of the money they are holding,” Pavan said.
The additional feature called Find My Stuff, still in the Beta stage, can help visually impaired people find their things, through speech recognition. “Based on the concept of cognition services, this feature has a lot of potential. If they have lost something and don’t have help, they can point the phone around the room, tell the app what they want found and it will help,” he added.
The app was born out of his experience in ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ last year, where his family dined in total darkness and had the opportunity to interact with visually impaired employees who were guides at the restaurant.
Out of this came the need to contribute through an aid that would help them achieve more independence. Inspired by the ideas of Visual Recognition APIs, including IBM's Watson Visual recognition, Pavan achieved this feat.
“The whole point is to give them an experience of vision. Something akin to them seeing just like the rest of us. Not just that, but also making them more independent,” he said.
Faizal KA, manager of operations at Dialogue in the Dark, who is visually impaired himself, thinks that this app serves an important purpose. He said, “The app is so accessible and easy to use that within 30 minutes, I got used to all its features.”
The app is like the infant version of the smart cane, said Pavan. “I am hoping to expand this mission and eventually come up with a smart cane, which will be the same in functionality as my current app, along with ‘echolocation’ to detect distances from objects. If cars can navigate themselves in the near future, the potential for innovation in this field is endless.” he added.
How it’s done
You can take a picture of what is in front of you or rotate your phone in your surroundings, and it will tell you, through speech, whatever you need to know. It also reads out texts messages and mails.
The features help the user visualise what is in front of them. If they want to cook, the app will tell them ingredient present is in front of them, or if they are making a bank transaction, the app will tell them through speech, the value of the money they are holding