About a year ago there was a new iPhone app, free, called Seeing AI. The brainchild of Saqib Shaikh, a Microsoft developer who is himself blind, this app is something of a blind person’s dream come true. It can read your mail, tell you whether that box in your hand is balsamic flavored crackers or the garlic/rosemary ones, and it can even tell you who is in the room!

When you open the app, you are presented with five “channels.” Each has a clear video tutorial. They are:
A. Short Text. This channel is perfect if you have a business card, an envelope, a receipt — any small piece of paper with print on it—it will read it to you. A series of beeps sound off when the print is in focus and it can even tell you if only the left top edges are visible.
B. Document. This channel translates longer documents, such as a full page of a book or magazine, credit card statement, users manual for a new toaster, etc. It snaps a picture to convert to spoken text, so waits for you to move a finger down the screen to hear as much text as desired.
C. Product. This channel is a bar code reader. The hardest part is locating the physical barcode on the package to take a picture of it. Usually these are found near the bottoms of bottles and boxes, so you can slowly begin 
rotating the product a foot or so away from the phone camera until beeping begins (like a Geiger counter) If there is more info available it might tell you the best pairings for a wine, or a recipe for a box of pasta.
D. Person. This channel is the most innovative. If you point the camera at a person it will announce “One face, four feet away, lower left” or “Zero faces”, etc. You can align the camera with the person to take a picture. Then it will give you gender, estimated age, hair color and expression. Accuracy is variable! There is a recognition option, when you take 3 pictures of a person with the name in jthe text box – presto! It will identify that person by name in the future.
E. Scene. This channel lets you rotate slowly to take in the environment and will summarize what it sees. “Sofa, chair, table with lamp” for example. Not always correct but certainly innovative!

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