Technology 3 min read

Microsoft Seeing AI app Enables Photo Exploration via Touch

Making technology accessible to everyone is a growing field in the tech industry. Though Microsoft first released their Seeing AI app in 2017, the latest updates to it allow blind or low-vision users to do something amazing: explore photos by touch.

This release is another major boost for the accessibility sector of Microsoft's ethos. ¦ Image via Microsoft

This release is another major boost for the accessibility sector of Microsoft's ethos. ¦ Image via Microsoft

Microsoft’s recent blog announcement discussed how its Seeing AI updates would focus on daily quality of life improvements.

“Seeing AI provides people who are blind or with low vision an easier way to understand the world around them through the cameras on their smartphones. Whether in a room, on a street, in a mall or an office – people are using the app to independently accomplish daily tasks like never before.”

Microsoft first announced its plans for this app all the way back in 2017. When the app launched, it had currency, color, and handwriting recognition. It also lets users personalize voices and talking speed.

But now, the app gets a much-needed boost thanks to iPad support and new features.

Saqib Shaikh, the Project Lead for the Seeing AI app, has been blind since childhood. You can see him here using the app. | Microsoft

Improvements to Close Ableism Gaps

Not only will Seeing AI be getting iPad support, but new features also join the roster, as well.

The main benefit of adding iPad support means that larger screens can display the app functions properly. Seeing AI app users can also customize the order of the app displays channels. This improves access in terms of speed and easiness.

There is also a “Person” channel that allows a user to teach Seeing AI how to recognize new people. The best part is that you can do this from the main screen. Other features include:

  • Playing the processing sound in the Seeing AI app while it finds photos from other apps
  • Faster access to features you use most
  • Touch-based photo exploration through “Explore Photo”

The touch-based feature allows users to move a finger across the screen and then hear sounds that tell the user where those objects or items are located. You can read about more of Microsoft’s particular changes in their blog post.

Making your own website more accessible is easier now than ever. Microsoft’s commitment to it echoes a growing sentiment in the tech industry, as well as others, to enhance accessibility. | Dreamhost

Steps in a Commitment Toward Increased Accessibility

Microsoft followed up their initial app release with a supported programming language, too.

Our writer Zayan Guedim discussed “Code Jumper”, the physical programming language, in his article. Both the language and the app fall under Microsoft’s initiative to increase accessibility in tech.

But Microsoft isn’t alone in this by any means at all.

Samsung’s Bixby, though plagued by many problems, has one of the best accessibility features. You can read all about that in our article linked below. However, technology companies aren’t the only ones upping their accessibility game.

Read More: Why the Death of Bixby is on the Horizon

Adaptive clothing is an increasing trend in clothes manufacturing. This includes things like jackets you can zip with one hand or even 3D printed fashion.

Perhaps Microsoft will add yet more features to its Seeing AI app in the future or even come out with a clothing line.

Read More: A Look at how Tech is Changing Society with Increased Accessibility

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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