Remember that new app that the SanSam Tech team from Start-Up came up with for their first project? Their app called Noon-Gil aims to help visually impaired people in their everyday lives from reading text on paper to navigating their way through the streets. It sounds like an amazing piece of innovation, but unfortunately, Start-Up is fiction. But what if there’s is an actual real-life app just like Noon-Gil?
It’s called Be My Eyes
The fictional Noon-Gil has all the functions needed within it for a visually impaired person to be able to live their day to day more comfortably. While the real-life app Be My Eyes doesn’t have all of Noon-Gil’s functions, the way it’s designed all the more makes up for it.
Volunteer-driven . . .
Created by Hans Jorgen Wiberg in 2015, Be My Eyes is an app made up of a global community that connects visually impaired people with sighted volunteers through a live video call. Instead of the app telling the visually impaired people where they placed their keys like Noon-Gil does, Be My Eyes allows actual people who can see and talk to the visually impaired people and assist them.
. . . and absolutely free!
Yes, the app is available for free on both the App Store and Google Play, so anyone with a smartphone can simply download it and join the community to either help or be helped.
They can help you build a team for work
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Be My Eyes for Work is an internal communications tool that helps make the workplace more accessible to visually impaired employees. If you’ve got visually impaired people in the company, the app can help you build a team of selected employees who can provide support for your visually impaired employees with the use of the Be My Eyes app.
They even offer on-demand “experiences”
If you’ve got an event coming up — a forum, training session, awards show, or maybe even a wedding — and you want to help your visually impaired guests to understand what’s going on more easily, Be My Eyes offers services for on-demand personalized audio descriptions of live experiences. This feature is especially more useful now that everything is being done online and onscreen.
How is it different from other apps for the visually impaired?
Be My Eyes isn’t the only app for visually impaired people out there. There’s Aipoly Vision and Glimpse, both which work similarly like Noon-Gil, in which the app itself works as an item recognizer (though it might not be as fully functioning as Noon-Gil is). In fact, there’s one such app that is proudly Filipino made from BS Information Technology students in Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU). It’s called Bright Light in Navigating Dark or B.L.I.N.D., which uses image recognition and speech tech to identify text and objects. Unfortunately, like in Start-Up, it’s hard to find funding for apps like these and Noon-Gil with the relatively small target market and inability to automatically generate revenue streams.
This is where Be My Eyes is different. Since the app doesn’t need to maintain an image recognition system, there’s no need for large funding. Be My Eyes connects people with people, so visualy impaired people aren’t just talking to AIs but actual human beings. And it’s actually a give and take: the app allows the visually impaired to be more independent, while the sighted people feel more useful through these simple acts of micro-volunteering.
All Be My Eyes needs is the community of visually impaired and sighted volunteers, which they’re actually bursting with.
The community is still growing
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As of writing, the Be My Eyes community has over 4 million volunteers ready to help over 270,000 visually impaired people all over the world. It has come a long way from its beginnings when creator Wiberg, who himself is visually impaired, first got the idea of video-calling with someone for assistance with simple everyday tasks when he spoke at the Danish Association of the Blind.
Want to volunteer?
Simply download Be My Eyes from the App Store or Google Play and sign up. Provide your name, email, and language(s) you speak. Then you just have to set a schedule on which you’ll be available to receive calls. But it might be a long while before you get to help someone due to the overwhelming number of volunteers, so make sure you’re always on alert if you want to receive a call ASAP.
Would you want to volunteer and be a Noon-Gil for someone?