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Be My Eyes is an app that can help the blind see

January 16, 2015

A Danish team recently developed a new iPhone app called Be My Eyes that allows sighted people to assist blind people when asked. The project demonstrates that e-commerce business models can do more than just increase sales, they can help facilitate altruistic endeavors as well.

A Danish team recently developed a new iPhone app called Be My Eyes that allows sighted people to assist blind people when asked. The project demonstrates that e-commerce business models can do more than just increase sales, they can help facilitate altruistic endeavors as well. 

Be My Eyes uses video chat to help the blind see
Engadget reported that new iPhone app Be My Eyes, developed by Danish team Thermodo, lets sighted people assist the blind if they need it. The nonprofit, crowd-sourced app uses video chat to connect blind people with others who are willing to lend their sight for a few minutes. The app is based on the idea that if a blind person requires assistance for things like crossing the street or reading an expiration date on a food product, they can tap their iPhone screen and find the first available helper. After the helper accepts the request, the blind person then points his or her camera at the problem and receives assistance via video chat – quite a simple but effective concept. 

According to Fusion.net, Be My Eyes is similar to other apps designed to help people. SoundAMP was a similar technology developed to transform a person’s phone into a makeshift hearing aid. The concept of using smartphones to facilitate everyday tasks for people with disabilities is not new, but could be further explored in years to come. As evidenced by the increasing number of apps introduced into the market, the world of mobile technology is filled with limitless possibilities. 

Be My Eyes has not yet penetrated its intended market effectively
According to Engadget, the team that developed Be My Eyes says sighted users do not have to worry about not answering a blind person’s request if they are unavailable. The app currently has over 13,000 helpers who recently signed up – in little over a day – to provide assistance to 1,145 blind people. Approximately 2,000 instances of requests for help have been answered already, but there are definite areas where the app needs to expand further. The obvious disparity in number of people offering assistance and those receiving it shows that the app still has considerable work to do in reaching the estimated 39 million blind people around the world. Additionally, the app is currently only available for iPhones – representing only 16 percent of mobile users.

Ultimately, while Be My Eyes still has room to grow, the idea is a good one. Apps have been instrumental in bringing services to many mobile users around the world and the success of Uber is testament to that. Developing apps – originally created to boost e-commerce sales – for the purpose of helping people is a positive sign. Be My Eyes demonstrates that the benefits of Internet technology are not always so easily observed. Sometimes synergies appear, with regard to new technology and established services, that allow the world to see smartphones offer society more than just selfies and instant messaging.

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