Using the latest tech to help the blind see with a stranger’s eyes
App allows sighted volunteers to help blind people all over the world, just by using their smartphones
The free iPhone app Be My Eyes connects blind users with sighted volunteers. When a blind user needs help, he accesses the app and Be My Eyes rings up the first available volunteer. The two are connected over the blind user’s video camera and the sighted user lends her eyes for a task that usually takes just a minute or two, such as checking the expiry date on food.
It’s a process that app cofounder Hans Joergen Wiberg refers to as micro-volunteering. “A lot of people want to do something good but they are busy,” he said. “With this app, they have an opportunity to help out if they have time.” Nearly 200,000 sighted users have signed up, with connections in 80 different languages.
Be My Eyes also has 18,000 registered blind users. One of them is Copenhagen native Kamila Ryding, who said that she typically uses the app once or twice a week, primarily for help in identifying household goods.
She said that Be My Eyes keeps her from feeling like a burden to her family and friends. “I like to have a friend be a friend and not a helper.”
But blind people aren’t the only beneficiaries; volunteers also have much to gain. One sighted user posted on Facebook, “This is the first app that has ever affected me on such an emotional level ... I feel like I’m getting more out of this app than the person who called me.”
Be My Eyes — an app that connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat.