Microsoft’s Seeing AI app for iOS tells the visually impaired what is around them

Microsoft has just released one of the most useful apps for sight-impaired people to use on their iPhones, called the Seeing AI. The app essentially uses AI to create a kind of computer vision that allows for the phone to describe the world around the user.

The phone’s camera can be pointed at a person and it will recognize the person, as well as describe who the person is and how they are feeling. The app will also be able to point out towards a product and tell the user what the product is. This will all actively be taking place thanks to the in-built artificial intelligence that the app houses. Microsoft did showcase a prototype of the app at its Build convention in March last year and that prototype has now made it to the mainstream.

For now the app is only available on iOS and a release for Android has not yet been announced. Considering that the app has first appeared only on the iPhone, it reflects Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s effort to embrace third-party platforms. Under his guidance, Microsoft has similarly brought its SQL server database software to Linux and has also ported its Office Suite to the iPad. It has even provided support for the MacBook’s touch bar for Microsoft Office apps. Microsoft will also be releasing guidelines for the development of AI-infused features in their products in order to showcase transparency and understanding, catering to the fair ethics of the trade.

The Seeing app for iOS is quite smart and can explain nearly everything to the user. Interestingly, Apple themselves, along with Google and Facebook, are also working on similar iterations of the project, which all involve AI in some capacity such as to help blind people in learning code, as well as to enable AI to describe what images it is seeing in a newsfeed for the visually impaired and so on. Another set of tools that Microsoft has released to allow for visually impaired gamers to get more involved, is a set of tools for video game developers that can be integrated into their games to allow for games that can be spoken to and navigated through.

All of these functions are possible through the AI’s neural networks and machine learning possibilities that are currently taking Silicon Valley’s giants by storm. Although it may not be entirely perfect, the app considered very useful.