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BeMyEyes App, 1/27/15

Sighted Assistance From BeMyEyes

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator

I just used BeMyEyes for the first time.  It is a straight forward utility app which connects a sighted volunteer with a blind user.  Through use of the back camera of an iPhone and the microphone, the sighted volunteer can give spoken guidance in solving a given task.

From initial startup, I was talking to someone in under 4 minutes.  Simply select whether you want to be a sighted assistant or a blind user and then sign up for the service and you are off and running.  Once you click the button to speak with the next person in the queue, the clock is ticking.  After about two minutes I had someone on the line who helped me calibrate my touch screen thermostat.

The hardest part about using BeMyEyes app is  aiming the camera with one hand while manipulating objects with the other.  With practice, I’m sure work-arounds can be found.   Of course,  getting everything in focus and the lighting just right can also be tricky.  There was a bit of initial fumbling, but eventually, we were in business.

BeMyEyes already has around ten thousand volunteers and the number is growing. This means the wait time will stay low and no single volunteer will be bombarded with requests.  Best of all, BeMyEyes is free, and we hope it stays that way.

The simplicity of this tool is made possible through the over-abundance of processing power available in mobile devices. Tossing around 2-way audio and a video feed would have been difficult just a couple of years ago.

It’s worth noting that I conducted my experiments using WIFI, and this could quickly devour your data plan, so be mindful of how you choose to connect when using this app.


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