Microsoft launches iPhone app that narrates the world for blind people

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Microsoft first revealed the technology to an audience of developers past year, but at the time it was only shown as working on smart glasses.

The Seeing AI app is very simple to use. They can point it at a product and the app will tell them what that is. Pointing it at a product's bar code will have the app describing what it is, and even provide additional information about how to use it.

The most important difference between Seeing AI and other similar apps is that most functions, like face recognition, are carried out directly on the device, giving the app a significant speed advantage. The app is also capable of recognizing currency bills and user's friends.

Seeing AI can also describe a physical environment in detail, which could significantly improve mobility for users.

For example, Microsoft brought its SQL Server database software to Linux, and it has ported Office apps to the iPad. Users will just have to import the image to the Seeing AI app in order for it to work.

In other words, this is the same type of technology being used to power innovations like self-driving cars. "As the research progresses, more channels may be added", the developers say via the app description. This means they can be accessed more quickly and in situations where there's no stable internet connection.

That being said, the Seeing AI app does come with a couple of experimental features which require a connection to Microsoft's cloud. Seeing AI can recognize saved friends and describe their emotions.

Today Microsoft introduced a new app exclusively for iPhone, Seeing AI. Under the leadership of Eric Horvitz, the new Microsoft Research AI program is created to bring together around 100 people who specialize in different technologies categorized under AI, instead of having them spread out in Microsoft AI and Research, which includes around 6,000 people, a Microsoft spokesman said.

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