July 12, 2017 Last Updated 2:23 pm

Microsoft launches remarkable iPhone app: ‘Seeing AI: Talking Camera for the Blind’

The company also announced a new program called AI for Earth, committing $2 million in the next fiscal year to ‘putting the power of artificial intelligence towards solving some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time’

The tech giant Microsoft today released a pretty remarkable new iPhone app called Seeing AI: Talking Camera for the Blind. The app is for the visually impaired and what it does is, as the app description says, turns the visual world into an audible experience.

Using the iPhone’s camera, the app will describe what it sees, can recognize friends faces, and can read text.

The app has different modes for reading short text, documents, product scan codes, people, as well as a beta for scene descriptions.

The page Microsoft has set up contains a number of video demos, but since the app is free of charge to download I simply would recommend that you download it yourself to see the work Microsoft is doing in this area.

“Seeing AI is built to help you achieve more by leveraging the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence. As the research progresses, more channels may be added,” the developers say via the app description.

The app is iOS only right now, and is only available in certain Apple App Stores (US, Canada, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore), but Microsoft is promising that it will come soon to other countries.

Here is the general video about the app:

Microsoft also today announced at an AI event in London, a new program called AI for Earth. The goal is to put “the power of artificial intelligence towards solving some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time,” said Brad Smith,President and Chief Legal Officer.

“Our goal is to empower others in new and more impactful ways to help create a more sustainable future. This program expands our commitments to democratizing AI and advancing sustainability around the globe. And it builds upon our experience in accelerating the pace of innovation bringing together philanthropic work, connectivity advances and more accessible technology around the world,” Smith said.

Microsoft is committing $2 million to the project and has named Lucas Joppa, Microsoft Research lead on computational ecology, to the role of chief environmental scientist.

Read more about the project on Microsoft’s blog.

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