New AI answers blind people’s questions about items around them – leaving users in tears | The Sun

AN AI can now answer blind people’s questions about the world around them.

The Be My Eyes app previously helped users identify anything from what ingredients are in food to whether they are using shampoo or conditioner using volunteers on a video call.

Now, its new Virtual Volunteer tool, which is powered by OpenAI, will be able to perform many of the same tasks more quickly.

It will allow blind or partially sighted people to take pictures of nearly anything, which will then be described in text form to help them make decisions.

Blind content creator Lucy Edwards was brought to tears while using the free app when it described what a model was wearing in a fashion catalogue.

She said: “I’ve always dreamed of buying books like this. I know it’s stupid I’m crying over a book but it’s more than that to me.”

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In a video posted on Instagram, Lucy took a few snaps of the book before typing in her question.

It described the colours of the dresses being worn by models as well as offering to describe the clothes in more detail.

She responded by speaking to the app, before it described the neckline, length of sleeve and type of hem on the first dress — prompting the fashion-obsessed influencer to tear up.

In a series of other posts, she used the app to help decipher foreign products at a supermarket and navigate the gym, saying it “gave her autonomy back”.

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Be My Eyes chief executive Mike Buckley said the new feature was prompted by some of its millions of users saying they felt uncomfortable with using volunteers’ time to help them.

He told Mashable: “This is directly responsive to the people who are blind and low-vision in our community that want something like this.

“Up to this point we just haven't seen a technological tool that would solve these needs quickly enough and accurately enough to launch something like this.

“We know AI is powerful, but it's got to be shaped and moved and fostered in a way that this community owns, and serves their needs.”

Around 2million people in Britain live with sightloss, with 240,000 registered as blind or partially sighted.

The new feature is currently in beta testing and only available to a small subset of users.

But the group will be expanded over the coming months and will be free to use.

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