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.