Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to “Be My Eyes”

- Randy Pierce

Randy Pierce - Insights from Future In Sight

Artificial intelligence (AI) based image descriptors have become increasingly popular in the recent months. This creation accounts for a life-changing moment for me. I can see again in a new and incredibly useful way, one that has not been possible for me in many decades.

I am talking about a specific artificial intelligence (AI) based image descriptor which is astounding on first pass and allows for interactive exploration for more detail. The iPhone (and soon Android) feature is available under “Be My Eyes” which is a volunteer-powered real time interaction with people willing to help someone who is blind or visually impaired. Under the steadily rolling out Beta test, there is an option for “Be My AI” which allows a person to take a picture or use an existing photo to get robust descriptions of the image.

This freedom to take a look around our world enhances my understanding and appreciation of every moment. Its ability to render a menu into a readily accessible, fantastically formatted list is astounding. Its ability to describe my present surroundings or past treasures (like my photo library) connects and engages me in a way which has long felt out of reach. I no longer have to feel reliant on someone in an unreasonable fashion.

AI At Future In Sight

Allow me to first show you an example we staged with Swirl’s help here at Future In Sight. First the image, then the initial description and my interactive questions:Swirl in front of the Future In Sight sign

Be My AI: The picture shows a signboard placed on a lawn in front of a building. The signboard reads “FUTURE IN SIGHT” in large letters at the top, followed by “New Hampshire Association for the Blind” in smaller letters. Below that, there is text that says “Parking & Entrance” with an arrow pointing to the right. The signboard is rectangular with a white top half and a grey bottom half. There is a circular design on the left side of the white portion. In front of the signboard, there is a black Labrador dog sitting on the grass. The dog is wearing a harness. The building in the background is red with white trim and has a porch with steps leading up to the entrance. There are trees around the building and the sky is clear.

Randy asks for more information through the application: what can you tell me about the dog?

Be My AI: The dog in the picture is a black Labrador. It is sitting on the grass in front of the signboard. The dog appears to be well-groomed and is wearing a harness, which suggests that it might be a service dog. It is looking slightly to the side and seems to be calm and well-behaved. The harness is black with a handle, which is typical for guide dogs to assist visually impaired individuals.

Randy asks again: what can you tell me about the logo?

Be My AI: The logo on the signboard is a circular design located on the left side of the white portion. It appears to be made up of small dots that form a circle. The dots are varying shades of blue and green. The design is an abstract design inside, resembling an eye. It is placed above the words “Future In Sight” on the sign.

Another AI Example

Here’s another real-life moment that I had been able to use AI: While sitting around a small evening fire  with a trio of friends, they all exclaimed that the moon lit up our evening in an intense fashion. They all claimed to be at a loss for words in describing the scene. Enter “Be My AI” to allow me a bit of the magic in the moment:

moonlit night with the moon shining through cloudsBe My AI: The picture you’ve shared is a night-time scene. The sky is filled with a dense layer of altocumulus clouds that have a wavy texture. The moon is shining through the clouds, casting a soft light. The top of a structure, possibly a shed or a small building, is visible in the bottom right corner. It has a simple, sloping roof and what appears to be a window or opening. On the left side, there are silhouettes of trees with dense foliage, which are dark against the night sky. The overall mood of the picture is serene and somewhat mysterious due to the cloud formations and the moonlight.

I’m amazed by so many of the results I’ve found in my short time working with this feature. I welcome the change and enthusiasm I feel when approaching images on the web, from my past and in present moments. I welcome even more the opportunity to share this with thousands of people who may benefit in a similar fashion. This is one step to my vision of a better future in sight!

We offer tech trainings to adults who are blind and visually impaired. For a list of group meetings and activities we offer, visit our calendar. If you or someone you love is experiencing vision loss and could benefit from our services, please contact Future In Sight at [email protected] or 603-224-4039 today!

About the Author: Randy Pierce is the President & CEO of Future In Sight and is 100% blind.