What it is: Microsoft has released a new app called Seeing AI, which helps blind people “see” what’s around them.
The main purpose of technology isn’t to focus on incremental improvements in a laundry list of technical specifications. Instead, technology is meant to improve our lives. As smartphones have become common with built-in cameras, Microsoft has taken advantage of these developments with a new app called Seeing AI.
The idea is that by pointing your smartphone camera at people, objects, or even text, the Seeing AI can tell you what the camera’s looking at including descriptions of people, buildings, or reading text. More amazing is that Microsoft is giving the Seeing AI app away for free.
When you see enabling technology like Seeing AI, you realize how technology can make people’s lives better. Even if you have decent eyesight, you could still use the Seeing AI for reading text out loud. Instead of relying on another person to watch your back while playing a game like paintball, you could strap a smartphone to your arm and let the Seeing AI provide another set of eyes to scan for approaching people.
Seeing AI is proof that Microsoft can innovate. If Seeing AI had been available on the Windows Phone platform, that could have been a major game-changer. As it stands now, Microsoft has seemingly given up on their mobile operating system plans and seem content to focus on making great apps for Android and iOS. That’s great for all smartphone users (at least if you’re running Android or iOS) because now you get the benefits of using Microsoft’s apps without the drawback of being stuck on Microsoft’s operating system.
With apps like Seeing AI and OneNote, Microsoft has consistently proven they can innovate on the mobile computer platform. As long as Microsoft focuses on making technology offer clear benefits to people, they can’t go wrong. It’s when they (or any other company) forgets about providing benefits to actual people that any product will ultimately fail.