Crowdsourcing Sight for the Visually Impaired

August 31, 2013 By IdeaConnection

Flood-meadow_near_HohenauA novel smartphone app is using the power of the crowd to help visually impaired individuals learn about what their immediate environment looks like.

MySmartEye connects people with vision conditions to volunteers who use their sight to describe what can be seen.

It works like this: a visually handicapped person follows voice commands and double taps their smartphone to take a photograph. The picture is sent to a volunteer who will describe what they are seeing.  That information is sent back in a typed-message that’s read to the person who took the picture.

Audio Descriptions

The promotional video on the MySmartEye website gives examples of how the app can be used. A blind person is in a field and takes a picture which is sent in real time to volunteers. They type back such descriptions as “to your left I see red tulips blooming” and “there’s a group of runners stretching and warming up”.


These micro-volunteers can help anyone at any time.  Describing a picture only takes seconds. So it can be done while you are waiting in line for groceries or at the bank or just killing time on the sofa during commercial breaks of your favorite TV programs.

The app was developed by StarHub, and in a press release company spokesperson Chan Kin Hung said: “We believe in the strength of altruism in humanity, that in spite of our busy schedules, we still want to help others in need. With MySmartEye, anyone can help the visually impaired in mere seconds anytime, anywhere.”

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