Be My Eyes
Can you imagine ‘lending your eyes’ to someone who cannot see themselves? This is the concept of a new application, BE MY EYES, which, by mixing technology with charity has found an smart solution to improve the day-to-day lives of blind and visually-impaired people.
Imagine you’re at home. Close your eyes and then try to find your keys and wallet. Or you’re at the supermarket. Close your eyes and then try to pick out your favourite brand of orange juice. Or say you’re at a train station. Close your eyes and try to find out quickly what platform your train is on.
Doing this, you might get a small taste of the challenges that people who are blind or visually-impaired face everyday. Whilst they can often rely on the assistance of those around them – from strangers as well as family and friends – if there is no one around to help then this is not the case. This is the problem that the application BE MY EYES is trying to solve.
Thanks to the application, over 130,000 people are now able to request visual assistance in their day-to-day tasks from a pool of more than 2.5 million volunteers. The response from those who have used the app so far has been overwhelmingly positive, saying that it has given them a newfound sense of independence and agency.
How does it work ?
Available in more than 150 countries and in over 180 languages, BE MY EYES allows its users to make video calls to volunteers registered on the app, depending on the available hours they register and the language they speak. The engagement of volunteers is so good, that on average it only takes 30 seconds for a call to be picked up.
The application uses the phone’s camera to establish a live video connection to the blind or visually-impaired person’s immediate surroundings from which the volunteer can give precise descriptions and directions.
The app is completely free to download and can be used at any time of the day and as often as required by its user, with no time limit on the duration of a call.
The most common reasons the app is used is for help with finding a specific item or object as well as reading instructions and labels, describing images and helping with directions in an unfamiliar setting. However, there is of course no limit to what the task or assistance might be, and the app asks its volunteers to be open to a range of possible scenarios.
It is also of course free to sign up as a volunteer, and to allow flexibility, if you happened to be busy in your specified time frame then you would not necessarily be expected to pick up a call if you received a notification. This is because the app sends out alerts to a number of volunteers with each request, so at least one person is guaranteed to be free and available to help. Furthermore, as there are such a large number of volunteers for the number of user’s registered, you wouldn’t expect to get a notification everyday, or even more than once a week, and only between the hours of 8am and 9pm.
Furthermore, the camera functions unidirectionally, so whilst you can see into their surroundings and talk to them, you would not be visible on their screen.
As well as linking up individuals for visual assistance on an ad-hoc basis, BE MY EYES has also developed a new ‘Specialized Help’ service for businesses, as currently so few organizations fully cater for the various needs of disabled people when creating products, services and websites. With users including Microsoft and Google, the service allows its visually-impaired customers to connect directly with the business, who, via video call can help them to resolve issues and handle tasks.
BE MY EYES is available on Apple and Android
Official Website: BE MY EYES