Be My Eyes app for iOS crowdsources help for the blind
Fri 16 Jan 2015
A new not-for-profit app, Be My Eyes, aims to help the visually-impaired by connecting them with volunteer users who can support them in their daily lives via live video calls.
Once downloaded Be My Eyes asks the user to identify as blind or sighted, to see if you require help or are offering it. When a blind person requests assistance the app scans the system for an available volunteer.
The app could be used in everyday scenarios to check use-by-dates, road signs, and identify specific objects. The blind user connects with the volunteer over a video call and points to the item they would like described. If a volunteer is otherwise occupied, they are able to pass on requests and the call is rerouted to another helper.
The app launched locally in Denmark a few months ago, and since being made freely available on the App Store today, the app already counts more than 13,899 volunteer users and 1,217 registered blind people. The app reportedly initiated 1,500 volunteer calls on its first day.
The initiative fits in line with an altruistic trend emerging recently in the app world, headed by the likes of Wakie, the social alarm clock which lets strangers wake one another up, and the KNFB reader also designed with blind users which provides an audio read-out of captured text for blind users.
The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on iOS7.0 and later. It is also already optimised for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Although currently an iOS-only app, there are plans to support Android in the near future.
Be My Eyes was created by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a visually-impaired entrepreneur, at a startup event. Wiberg teamed up with Robocat, the Danish software studio behind Haze and Thermo, to make his vision a reality.