Microsoft's incredible new app helps blind people see the world around them -- take a look

Microsoft seeing ai appMicrosoft‘I think it’s a young girl throwing an orange Frisbee in the park,’ Microsoft’s AI will tell you.

Artificial intelligence is helping people do extraordinary things. At Microsoft, it’s helping blind people see the world around them like never before.

Last Thursday, Microsoft showed off its Seeing AI app for the first time. It’s still under development, but it looks extremely promising.

Using a smartphone camera or a pair of camera-equipped smart glasses, the Seeing AI app can identify things in your environment — people, objects, and even emotions — to provide important context for what’s going on around you.

Take a look.

Meet Saqib Shaikh.

Microsoft

Shaikh lost the use of his eyes when he was just seven years old.

Microsoft

Shortly after, Shaikh was introduced to talking computers at a school for the blind. This inspired him to become a programmer.

Microsoft

Shaikh has been working at Microsoft for the last 10 years as a software engineer.

Microsoft

He's been working on an idea he's had since his college days: an app that can tell you at any moment what's going on around you.

Microsoft

Shaikh teamed up with like-minded engineers to work on this very app using Microsoft's intelligence APIs.

Microsoft

The app, called Seeing AI, works on smartphones as well as Pivothead's SMART glasses, pictured here. Just a simple swipe forward on the glasses tells you what you're looking at.

Microsoft

'I think it's a man jumping through the air doing a trick on a skateboard,' Microsoft's AI says.

Microsoft

This also has applications for things like working in groups.

Microsoft

The Seeing AI app can tell you whether or not people are really listening to what you're saying, and it can describe the general age and gender of the people around you, as well as their emotions.

Microsoft

The app is also good at reading out text.

Microsoft

You can use the app to take a picture of the text, and the app will actually guide you to ensure you're capturing the full text of what you're looking at.

Microsoft

'Move camera to the bottom right and away from the document,' Microsoft's AI says.

Microsoft

Once you take the picture, Microsoft's AI will recognise the text. It can even identify and read back headings in case you don't want to know about every single item on a restaurant's menu, for example.

Microsoft

'Years ago, this was science fiction,' Shaikh says. 'I never thought it would be something you could actually do, but artificial intelligence is improving at an ever faster rate and I'm really excited to see where we can take this.'

Microsoft

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