Health & Wellbeing

Be My Eyes app lets you lend your eyes to the blind

Be My Eyes is a new mobile app that aims to help blind people in situations where they need to see something
Be My Eyes is a new mobile app that aims to help blind people in situations where they need to see something
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Be My Eyes is a new mobile app that aims to help blind people in situations where they need to see something
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Be My Eyes is a new mobile app that aims to help blind people in situations where they need to see something
Be My Eyes connects blind individuals with sighted volunteers
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Be My Eyes connects blind individuals with sighted volunteers
Be My Eyes sets up a video call between blind users and sighted users, for situations where sight assistance is required
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Be My Eyes sets up a video call between blind users and sighted users, for situations where sight assistance is required
Be My Eyes lets sighted users converse with blind users and provide assistance
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Be My Eyes lets sighted users converse with blind users and provide assistance
Screenshots of the Be My Eyes app
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Screenshots of the Be My Eyes app

Although blind people are generally capable of going about things unaided, there are times when seeing something is a necessity. A new mobile app aims to help the blind in those situations. Be My Eyes connects individuals in need of visual assistance with sighted volunteers via a video call.

There is a simple brilliance about Be My Eyes. It uses existing technology with which people are widely familiar and applies it to a problem that is significant for those that it affects. While the technology may not be innovative in itself, the way in which it is employed certainly is. The result is an app that can not only make a real difference to blind users, but enables altruism and develops understanding among those who are able to see.

The app was conceived by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who is visually impaired himself. Wiberg presented the idea at a Startup Weekend event in Denmark back in 2012, and a test version of the app is since said to have been positively received by the blind community. The app was launched proper earlier this month.

There are two groups of people who can use the Be My Eyes app – those who are blind and may require sighted assistance at some point, and those who are willing and able to provide assistance. On opening the app, users indicate which group they fall into. It is then possible for blind users to request assistance from the first available sighted user.

Be My Eyes sets up a video call between blind users and sighted users, for situations where sight assistance is required
Be My Eyes sets up a video call between blind users and sighted users, for situations where sight assistance is required

Once an available helper is found, the app sets up a video call between the users. The blind user is then able to explain their problem and point their phone towards the subject they need to see. The helper is able to ask questions and converse with the blind user, and to provide instruction as to how the phone may need to be aimed or positioned in order for them to provide the required assistance.

We've no word on whether the system includes any safeguards against malicious misuse by sighted "helpers" (such as deliberately offering false advice or feedback to blind users), but have reached out for confirmation and will provide an update when we find out more.

The app is currently only available on the iPhone. A version for Android users is said to be currently under development.

Be My Eyes is a non-profit organization and is funded until September of this year. By then, it says it will need to have worked out a sustainable business model, with subscription and/or donations-based approaches both having been mooted.

The video below provides an introduction to the app.

Source: Be My App

Be My Eyes - Bringing sight to the blind and visually impaired

6 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think this is a really great idea.
kellory
The video conference call needs to be with THREE people. If something is read wrong, or malicious info is given (like misidentifying rat poison for sugar) you would have a checks and balances. Or a watcher to report the event. Make sure there is a call back feature, so you can check back with the blind person to make sure they are all right, or fully understood.
Rusty Harris
Just think how many more people could be helped, if they had the app for Android.
Dan Lewis
No, THREE aren't needed. The reader has been well and fully identified as being suitable for the task, sorta like a cab driver. The receiver has been warned and knows the score. Like Rusty, I look forward to the Android version.
JimSpy
I love the sentiment behind this - imagine an app that actually does something productive! However, I see the potential for abuse, and not just malicious responses...I can imagine some sighted troublemakers signing up as "blind" and sending pornography to complete strangers, just for gits and shiggles. I would definitely not allow Anthony Weiner anywhere near this app!
Shaun King
@Jim You know, I wasn't even thinking about prank potential until you mention it. Now I'm amusing myself thinking about a "blind" user at a seedy bar asking volunteers if the women he's hitting on are too ugly to shag... Actually, this same app would work if you titled it "Beer Goggles" with the same system.