Microsoft’s new iPhone app narrates the world for blind people

 

The app works in a number of scenarios. As well as recognizing people it’s seen before and guessing strangers’ age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning barcodes. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes US currency. This last function is a good example of how useful it can be. As all dollar bills are the same size and color regardless of value, spotting the difference can be difficult or even impossible for the visually impaired. An app like Seeing AI helps them find that information.

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How Blind People ‘See’ the iPhone With Their Fingers

 

A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand a word it was saying. And here’s the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone’s battery lasted forever. Ever since that day, I’ve been like a kid at a magic show. I’ve wanted to know how it’s done. I’ve wanted an inside look at how the blind could navigate a phone that’s basically a slab of featureless glass.

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Microsoft’s new app lets colorblind people see the world a little clearer

 

“It’s an app that helps colorblind people distinguish color combinations that they would normally have trouble telling apart,” says creator Tom Overton in a Microsoft blog. “For example, since I have difficulty distinguishing between red and green, our app makes reds brighter and greens darker so that the difference is more obvious. It replaces difficult color combinations, like red and green, with more easily distinguishable combinations, like pink and green.” The app can’t fix colorblindness, but it will make colors easier to distinguish”

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The new app that serves as eyes for the blind

Moreover, sensors capable of recognizing emotions on these faces — work that’s part of other Carnegie Mellon research into autism – could make it possible to recognize when those people passing you are smiling or frowning. Researchers also are exploring the use of computer vision to characterize the activities of people in the vicinity and ultrasonic technology to help identify locations more accurately. As Asakawa shared with me, the cognitive assistance research that went into creating the NavCog app has some parallels with the cognitive computing work being performed by IBM Watson. In both cases, there is a growing attempt to improve the cognitive abilities of humans on a real-time basis.

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How To Make Fashion More Accessible For Wheelchair Users And The Disabled

While no two disabilities are the same, impaired motion in a hand, arm, or leg can turn putting on a shirt or pair of pants into a long process. Jones thought about how to reengineer garments to make them easier for disabled and wheelchair-bound people to maneuver and to make them more functional during daily use, more attractive, and more comfortable. For example, when people are seated, their bodies are shaped differently from when they’re standing—essentially waists, hips, and thighs expand. Jones designed patterns to accommodate more width in those areas. Additionally, it takes more fabric to cover bent knees and elbows, so she designed sleeves that expand like an accordion to allow more freedom of movement without bunching fabric. She also restructured pant legs so that there’s extra fabric. The idea is that the clothes look polished and tailored for each individual.

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Low-cost robot hand wins Dyson prize

A prototype 3D-printed robotic hand that can be made faster and more cheaply than current alternatives is this year’s UK winner of the James Dyson Award. The Bristol-raised creator of the Open Bionics project says he can 3D-scan an amputee and build them a custom-fitted socket and hand in less than two days. It typically takes weeks or months to obtain existing products. Joel Gibbard says he aims to start selling the prosthetics next year. “We have a device at the lower-end of the pricing scale and the upper end of functionality,” he told the BBC. “At the same time it is very lightweight and it can be customised for each person. “The hand is basically a skeleton with a ‘skin’ on top. So, we can do different things to the skin – we can put patterns on it, we can change the styling and design. There’s quite a lot of flexibility there.” The 25-year-old inventor intends to charge customers £2,000 for the device, including the cost of a fitting. Although prosthetic arms fitted with hooks typically can be bought for similar prices, ones with controllable fingers are usually sold for between £20,000 and £60,000.

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Can technology make a hearing-centric world more accessible?

On this week’s episode of Top Shelf, you’ll see how Gallaudet University researchers are using motion capture technology and interactive apps to ensure that children who are deaf are exposed to language at an early age. Then, you’ll meet the owner of Digital Media Services — a company that does closed captioning for Hulu, Netflix, and even Nicki Minaj music videos. Finally, you’ll get a glimpse at the changes taking place in the world of hearing aids.

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How the arts can help change attitudes to blindness

When non-blind people think of blindness, they tend to think of a tragic, life-limiting condition that reduces people’s interactions with and appreciation of the world. But for me, as for many blind or partially blind people, blindness is not a tragedy; it’s simply a different way of being in the world. Sure, it can be inconvenient at times, but it’s certainly not a fate worse than death. I organised the Blind Creations conference to dispel this blindness-as-tragedy myth by celebrating blindness’s artistic potential and destabilising sight’s position at the top of the hierarchy of the senses. Attended by 116 delegates from around the world in June – around half of whom were blind – this conference and micro-arts festival was a forum where blind and non-blind people shared inventive ways of experiencing the world, from tactile books and photographs to haptic art.

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How the arts can help change attitudes to blindness

When non-blind people think of blindness, they tend to think of a tragic, life-limiting condition that reduces people’s interactions with and appreciation of the world. But for me, as for many blind or partially blind people, blindness is not a tragedy; it’s simply a different way of being in the world. Sure, it can be inconvenient at times, but it’s certainly not a fate worse than death. I organised the Blind Creations conference to dispel this blindness-as-tragedy myth by celebrating blindness’s artistic potential and destabilising sight’s position at the top of the hierarchy of the senses. Attended by 116 delegates from around the world in June – around half of whom were blind – this conference and micro-arts festival was a forum where blind and non-blind people shared inventive ways of experiencing the world, from tactile books and photographs to haptic art.

Read the full story here