We often take for granted our vision and how it assists with simple things such as picking out clothes that match and as we all know, brown belt and black shoes is a criminal offense in some parts of the world. For those with a vision impairment, simple tasks such as selecting clothes, food, or reading street signs is all but impossible without a human aid nearby and it is a daily challenge.
A team from New Zealand has found a way to solve this solution using a smartphone, Azure, and crowd-sourcing and their application is already being used by blind individuals in New Zealand. The application works like this, you take a photo using a specially designed application, the photo is uploaded to the team's server, it is then processed using either AI, crowd-sourcing, or a premium service that charges 7 cents per image to decode the image.
Once the image is uploaded, a verbal command comes back to the user and describes what they are looking at in only a matter of moments. For the user, the process is simple, take a picture, wait a few seconds, and then they are verbally told what the image is so they can then make a decision about how to proceed.
End user talking about his experience with Mobile Eye
The brilliance of how this applications work is its use of Facebook to help identify what is in the images. One of the content-recognition option uses Facebook users to identify the items in to the image. The team has incorporated gaming schematics to turn image processing into a fun and rewarding experience. When an image is uploaded and you identify the objects, you are rewarded for your deed. If Facebook does not respond quickly, then AI or the premium service backfills the void to make sure the visually impaired individual receives the assistance that they need.
The application is already in use by individuals with a visual impairment and is making common tasks far easier for these individuals. Imagine Cup is fostering change everyday and this application is only the latest example to come out of this game-changing competition.
Interested in Imagine Cup? Want to learn more or even register your team for the 2013 challenges? Head on over to Imagine Cup's website to stay updated on all the events for the 2013 competition.