A new user-friendly app aims to overcome social barriers by helping those with a visual impairment distinguish between bank notes, read menus, and access the news independently.
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Innovation has played a pivotal role in helping the visually impaired participate more fully in society. We have seen inventions such as the device that allows the blind to visualize the view from the car window. Using sensory technology, the visually impaired can experience the passing scenery as they drive along. Similarly, The National Gallery of Prague ran a campaign to make museum art more accessible. They did this by designing haptic virtual reality gloves which the visually impaired used to touch sculptures. Bringing the exhibition to life helps those with impaired vision to live a fuller life. Now, the mobile app iSEE also seeks to break down societal barriers. They aim to do so by facilitating everyday tasks.
The application works by accessing the smartphone’s camera and using this to recognise what is being seen. The app is capable of distinguishing between different denominations of bank notes in just seconds. Once identified the iMobile reader tells the user the value of the bank note with an audio output in Cantonese. This helps the visually impaired go about their daily life more efficiently. The app is also able to identify text and colour. In addition to identifying bank notes, the app can also provide audible cuisine information about different restaurants and provide users with news updates. This app is unique due to its Cantonese audio and its availability on both Apple and Android devices. Currently at 70 percent accuracy, the app’s founder, Michael Fung Kwong-chiu says: “We plan to enhance our database.”
Undoubtedly technology has changed the lives of people living with disabilities. It will be interesting to see how iSEE’s technology will expand and progress. Perhaps apps will be the future for the visually impaired?