What The Tech? Be My Eyes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

What The Tech? Be My Eyes

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

It's difficult for most of us to imagine what it is like to be blind or visually impaired.

Common everyday tasks become impossible for people who cannot see.

Things like matching a sweater to pants or seeing if the sour cream in the refrigerator has passed the expiration date or reading a recipe.

Those things we take for granted most always need seeing eyes.

While smartphones themselves have accessibility features for the visually impaired a popular app is doing the impossible: giving sight to blind people.

Be My Eyes is a free app where volunteers with sight agree to serve as the eyes for blind people using the app.

It works like this: A blind person who needs help checking the ingredients of an item in the pantry can log onto the app and send out a request for someone to read it for them. A volunteer who's also downloaded the app will get a notification that their assistance is needed. The blind person points their camera toward what needs to be read and in a live video connection can describe to the sighted person what they need.

For example, the blind person may point the camera at a couple of scarves and ask 'which scarf is the red one?' and the volunteer will serve as their eyes.

A person may point their camera at a food label and ask "how much sodium is in here?" and the sighted person can answer.

Anyone can download the app and sign up to be a volunteer.

Currently, according to the Be My Eyes website, there are nearly 560,000 sighted volunteers answering questions for some 39,700 blind users.

The most recent numbers reveal there have been nearly 275,000 answered calls.

A sighted volunteer is selected at random when a request goes out.

The volunteer will receive a notification on their phone.

If they're unable to help at the moment the call goes out to another volunteer so the blind or visually impaired user does not have to wait.

Be My Eyes just released an Android version of the app.

While it is a free app to download and to use, Be My Eyes accepts donations to keep the app working and to help pay for developers work on future updates.

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