Singapore telco StarHub and digital marketing agency TribalDDB have developed an app that aims to enable blind people to receive near-instantaneous feedback about their surroundings through crowdsourcing.
The MySmartEye app lets users take photos, which would be sent to a pool of micro volunteers, now numbering more than 400. Using the same app, volunteers can add captions to the photos, which would then be read out to the blind user. The feature is available in multiple languages, though translation won’t be available.
Potential uses include the reading of food labels, seeking feedback for items — like clothing — before purchase, and getting descriptions of scenery, events, or things.
Spearheaded by i3, StarHub’s innovation, incubation, and investment arm, the initiative also lowers the barrier to entry for volunteerism, allowing more individuals to contribute tiny chunks of time while on the go or during breaks. The crowdsourcing feature is social — it facilitates conversations between volunteers and the visually handicapped.
The app is a CSR initiative for StarHub. The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped has been helping to test the app, and it will also serve as a ready pool of volunteers and users for MySmartEye.
The iOS version is still buggy though, as several reporters, myself included, had problems creating an account (Update: The bug has been fixed). The Android version appears to be working just fine.
The telco intends for MySmartEye to just be a start of many technology initiatives to improve the lives of handicapped individuals. Through Appvisor, it hopes to attract more developers to create apps catering to the visually impaired.
While the app promises near real-time responses, StarHub will need to ensure a sizable pool of volunteers to meet users’ needs. The more delayed the responses are, the less useful the app will be.
MySmartEye has some similarities to LendAnEye, a CSR project by marketing agency Grey Singapore. Except that while MySmartEye snaps photos and requires less commitment from volunteers, LendAnEye is more of a navigational tool with live video feeds that enable users to receive directions when traveling from place to place.