The visual impaired population is getting more support from AI to help them ‘see’ the world around them. The already very successful human-powered app Be My Eyes (we’ve covered it before) has launched Be My AI, an automated tool that can help in certain circumstances. Using an AI trained to identify everyday objects users can use the camera on their phone to quickly identify objects, of course it isn’t perfect and nor can it fully replace the human aspect of Be My Eyes. One user has written up their experience of the tool which you can read here.
You can use Be My AI 24/7 in all those situations when you want quick visual assistance without necessarily calling a human volunteer. Be My AI is perfect for all those circumstances when you want a quick solution or you don’t feel like talking to another person to get visual assistance. You may be amazed that Be My AI knows more than just what’s in the photo – just ask for more context and discover what it can tell you.
Be My AI also will give deaf-blind users a new way to get information if they use, for example, a braille display. Be My AI’s written responses are user-selectable in 29 languages.
For all of its advantages, though, Be My AI does not and should not replace a white cane, guide dog, or other mobility aid that provides for safe travel.
Way back in 2011 we took at a new app that helps to identify the world around, back then it was to help the California redwoods. That app is iNaturalist and it’s had a great decade plus of identifying all sorts of plants and animals. The app, which has a very active and committed user based has been so successful that species that had never been seen before have now been found. The ap started as a research project and will now live on as a nonprofit thanks to a generous donation. Here’s to studying the world through citizen science!
Data from iNaturalist have been used in more than 4,000 research publications, and users have identified new species through browsing its observations. “We have a better understanding of current biodiversity than we have ever had because of iNaturalist—hands down,” says Young. In total, more than 2.8 million observers have uploaded more than 150 million verifiable observations to iNaturalist, and in July, an average of 124 observations were uploaded per minute.
Every month, around 350,000 people record observations. But Loarie recalls a time when he considered 50 regular iNaturalist users a triumph. Like any critter on its site, iNaturalist has gone through a number of life stages.
Too many companies say they care about an important issue, sponsor events, and then turn around and fund organizations (or politicians) that actively fight the important issue. This behaviour by corporations is unethical and wrong. One person got so sick of companies claiming to be in favour of issues only to fund campaigns opposing it that he built an app to out the corporations. The Bobbele app allows you to scan a barcode and see what corporations fund behind the scenes, plus any controversies the companies are embroiled in.
A good example is Google since they gave up on doing no evil their controversy list is rather long.
From the creator of the app:
I use the wikipedia dumps that are provided monthly and go through all articles to filter out company and product related ones and all the relevant sections which might be controversial. I do a lot of post processing then to link all the companies based on the parent and owner information so luckily no manual labour and its easy to keep up to date!
Large tech companies find ways to make money off of your data without you knowing about it, they might even be sharing personal information about you with governments or advertisers. If that makes you uncomfortable (I hope it does) then you should consider looking for alternatives to mainstream software services and applications. For example you can replace Google with Ecosia or DuckDuckGo.
Thankfully there’s a group that is dedicated to making our tech more ethical and encouraging people to find these ethical solutions in an easy way via one site: ethical.net.
You can join in the conversation about ethical technologies and uses at their forum.
Ethical.net is a collaborative platform for discovering and sharing ethical product alternatives â€” whether that means purchasing from a social enterprise, thrift shopping, or learning how to fix your old phone instead of buying a new one.
What do we mean by ethical?
We know that â€œethicalâ€ can mean very different things to different people.
But for us, it’s broadly about pursuing sustainability instead of growth, and putting people above profit.
Be My Eyes is an app designed to help people with low vision to get help from thousands of people around the world. It works by connecting people with vision problems to those with good vision. For example, a blind person might need to know which object is red so they take a picture with their phone and a volunteer using Be My Eyes lets them know. The app has been available on iOS and now Android users can join in on the fun!
The app is free, anonymous, and available 24/7. Anyone can join as a volunteer or end user. Thereâ€™s no commitment when joining, so for sighted people, this is a great way to make the world better just a few minutes at a time. Its creators report over 270 thousand help sessions, with over 500 thousand sighted users helping 38 thousand blind ones.