New Microsoft App Describes The World For The Visually Impaired

The Microsoft logo is illuminated on a wall during an event in New York City

The app can, for example, recognize friends' faces and guess their emotions, read text out loud when it comes into view and even has experimental features that can describe scenes - for example, it identified a young girl throwing a frisbee in the park.

What's particularly impressive about the app is the breadth of things it can describe.

The Seeing AI app is able to do all of these using artificial intelligence.

The app is iOS only right now, and is only available in certain Apple App Stores (US, Canada, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore), but Microsoft is promising that it will come soon to other countries. Most others are aimed at a single task, like identifying a color or reading text aloud.

The app guide's users, telling them, for example, if a document's edges aren't visible or if the camera isn't being held steadily. To that end, the software giant reorganized its AI efforts past year, with the formation of the Microsoft AI and Research Group. If you'd like to give it a try yourself, you can download the iOS app here; there's no word on when an Android app may be available. The app shows off Microsoft's current capabilities in AI, while also addressing a group that the technology industry too often ignores. The app can recognize people it has seen before and analyze facial expressions to tell you how a person is feeling.

Scenes (early preview) - Hear an overall description of the scene captured.

This feature will be useful for United States currency, as all USA dollar bills are the same size and hard to identify for the visually impaired.

Seeing AI joins a small group of apps created to help visually impaired people.

The Seeing AI app is very simple to use. The app's most basic functions are carried out directly on the device itself.