Blind Microsoft developer creates app to help him experience the world in a richer way

A groundbreaking new app is in development, thanks to a visionary developer who hopes that the software will allow people who are visually impaired to navigate the world with a little more ease.

In the wake of the Microsoft Build 2016 event, Windows Central ran an article about Saqib Shaikh, who was inspired to create an app which would allow him to experience certain things in a very new way. The app works through a receptive set of glasses, which tells the user what it believes is taking place around them.

Shaikh himself has been blind since he was seven years old. He has worked at Microsoft for the past 10 years in London. He made an app called Seeing AI as a research project, using intelligence APIs from Microsoft Cognitive Services. The app works on both smartphones as well as the Pivothead SMART glasses. The app can “see” objects and people and then translate what it sees to Shaikh via an audio message.

For example, in a meeting the app sees other people and can tell Shaikh their gender, age and even their emotional state, such as if they appear happy or sad or surprised. The smartphone version can also take a picture of a paper with text, like a menu, and then offer an audio version of that menu. Since this is a research project, there’s no indication when, or even if, it will be released as a real commercial app.


Colin J McCracken

Colin J McCracken is a content designer, editor and writer from Ireland. Giving form and function to the My Good Planet vision, it has been his role to design and develop the online platform, content and presence of the project.

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