Innovation That Matters

Microvolunteers help blind people to 'see'


The Singapore-based MySmartEye app crowdsources identification of images taken by other smartphone users with visual impairments.

Smartphones enable workers to respond to emails when they’re not at the desk – whether they see that as a good thing or not. By the same token, it’s possible that volunteers could help to carry out microtasks for charities and nonprofits wherever they are. A new app from Singapore called MySmartEye is aiming to do just that, by crowdsourcing identification of images taken by other smartphone users with visual impairments.

Developed by telecoms firm StarHub for the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, the app can be downloaded by smartphone users with a visual impairment. If they want to know the details of an object or view in front of them, they simply take a photo and upload it through the app. The image is instantly sent to one of MySmartEye’s microvolunteers, who offer a short description of the photograph. The description is sent back to the original user, who can then use text-to-speech software to have it read aloud. The video below offers more information about the project:

Available for free on the App Store and Google Play, the developers of the app hope that it could leverage the 7.4 million mobile owners in Singapore to carry out small, ten-second tasks that could improve the quality of life for those with disabilities. Are there other ways smartphone owners could be turned into charitable volunteers?

Spotted by Murray Orange, written by Springwise



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