A Solution in Sight (pun intended)

Cds IMG 3733Have you ever thought about how much of your life is spent looking at things?

That may sound like a silly question, but just take a moment to think about how often you get photographs on WhatsApp or on Facebook, how much print material you encounter whether on paper or on a digital device… and then imagine the frustration of knowing it’s there but not being able to see any of it

Recently I’ve become aware of various apps for my iPhone that give me access to some sighted items that I couldn’t access before. They are broken down into 2 categories – object recognition (to identify objects) and character recognition (to identify text).

I was amazed to discover how many apps there are that can be used for either object or character recognition, and was even more amazed to find out how many of them were available for free. So I started testing a few.

At the moment I’m playing with an app called Braigo, which is one of the few that does both object and character recognition. I can either take a photo on my iPhone and Braigo will try to identify its contents, or I can upload images from other sources.

I’ll admit I’ve had mixed success with the app – when I took a test photo of one of my dogs standing on a wooden floor it told me that the image was of a dog jumping into an oven (say what???) and when I took a photo of a rolled up mat leaning against a window I was told that it was an image of someone sitting on a window sill. On the other hand, when Craig took a photo of me at a restaurant Braigo not only correctly identified that the image was of a woman sitting at a table, but even correctly translated the handwritten menu on the chalkboard on the wall behind me – wow!

From the research I’ve done, I understand that an app called KNFB Reader is considered the best available for character recognition, and that Identifi is popular for object recognition. I also know that there are a number of apps available that make use of human volunteers to help identify objects and locations for those of us without sight… but more on these another day.

The point I’m making is that using technology there is a solution in sight that will allow blind and visually impaired people to do and see far more than we previously could … and that is going to make a vast difference in our lives!

Now, I wonder if I can get that person who was sitting on my window sill to help me with the housework… Hmm…

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