Seeing AI: New Technology Research to Support the Blind and Visually Impaired Community


Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, which includes creating and delivering technology for people of all abilities. As a part of this effort, last week at the Microsoft Build Conference, we debuted a new research project in development – Seeing AI – aimed at helping people who are visually impaired or blind to understand more about who and what is around them. Seeing AI will use computer vision, image and speech recognition, natural language processing and machine learning from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services and Office Lens to help describe a person’s surroundings, read text, answer questions and even identify emotions on people’s faces.


Seeing AI demo concept video

Seeing AI might be used either as a mobile app or via smart glasses from Pivothead. Although Seeing AI would not replace mobility aids such as guide dogs and canes, it will add another layer of information that could further enable people of all abilities to use technology in a more personal and enjoyable way.

This project was born out of last year’s //oneweek Hackathon, an event where Microsoft employees work together and try to make wild ideas a reality. Although Seeing AI is still in the development phase and not currently available, there has been tremendous progress on this initiative in a relatively short amount of time and we will definitely provide updates when we have more information to share.

We’re so excited to be working across the company and with others around the world to explore new opportunities that can help people of all abilities to achieve more. As always, we love your continued feedback and ideas as we keep working together to push the boundaries of what technology can do to empower every person on the planet.


Comments (10)
  1. Don Barrett says:

    This is very exciting news, and exemplifies the new emphasis on bot technology improving the lives of everyone, including individuals with various disabilities. Big kudos to Microsoft for this one.

  2. Beth says:

    Sounds intriguing, please look at tech which would replace a cane, dog guide and sighted guide, thanks. Beth

    1. Beth, have you seen the Microsoft research project that has been happening in cooperation with Guide Dogs UK? Take a look at… http://news.microsoft.com/stories/independence-day/

  3. We would like to interview a representative from the MS accessibility team to talk about MS’s mission, efforts, and other resources relevant to people with visual impairments for a future episode of Eyes On Success. This weekly, half hour show is geared to people with visual impairments and has been airing for over 5 years through numerous radio reading services throughout the U.S. and Canada, streamed by several internet streaming services, and also available as a podcast or download from our site.

    If you would like to learn more about us, the show, and/or listen to previous episodes, go to:
    http://www.EyesOnSuccess.net

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks.

    The Hosts: Pete and Nancy Torpey

    1. I have forwarded your info and request to our PR team.

    2. David says:

      Pete/Nancy, hope you do get someone on your podcast. I thought as soon as I heard the demo — the presenter sounds rather like my British economics professor friend — I thought, ‘Oh, I bet Eyes on Success would like this.’ Kudos to you all

  4. Terry Kebbel says:

    I know a lot of blinds vets, like myself would like a product like this
    just a blind vet

  5. David Friedland says:

    I would like more information about Seeing AI because I am totally blind and this product might help. Please get in touch with me at the following phone number 949-552-1782 or email address at davfrid@dslextreme.com or please let me know who I can contact to get more information about this product. David Friedland

  6. Jordan says:

    Very cool! This seems like a really interesting technology. I hope more tech companies look into this sort of use for technology. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Anand poddar says:

    I am visually impaired and am really excited to see such things developed and hope they soon come to the help of people like me…Pls keep me updated about the progress.

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