App lets people lend their eyes to the blind

A new app makes life easier for the blind, by connecting them with sighted helpers through a smartphone app. This allows the blind to handle big and small tasks, while sighted get the joy of helping someone else in a easy and informal way. The app is called Be My Eyes and could revolutionise everyday life for the blind.

It only takes a minute to choose the right tin from the shelf, look at the expiration date on the milk or find the right thing to eat in the fridge ­ if you have full vision that is. For visual impaired individuals smaller tasks in their home can often become bigger challenges. The new app is called “Be My Eyes” and hopes to change that.

Through a direct video call the app gives blind people the opportunity to ask a sighted volunteer for help with tasks that require normal vision. The blind person “borrows” the helper’s eyes via a smartphone. The sighted helper is able to see and describe what the blind person is showing the sighted helper by filming with the video camera in the smartphone. That way, by working together, they are able to solve the problem that the blind person is facing.

A test version of the app has been well received by the blind community. John Heilbrunn, himself blind and vice-chairman of the Danish Association of the Blind, sees it as great opportunity to get help from a network of volunteers.

“The app makes it possible to get help at times that it might be inconvenient to get help from neighbors or friends, and you don’t have to go apologetically and ask for help.”

The idea behind Be My Eyes originates from the Danish 50-year-old furniture craftsman, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who started losing his vision when he was 25. His wish is that the app will make both the everyday life of blind people easier and new flexible opportunity to volunteer.

“It is flexible, takes only a few minutes to help and the app is therefore a good opportunity for the busy, modern individual with the energy to help others,” Mr Wiberg says.

The Be My Eyes app is free and available in the AppStore.

About Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a non­-profit startup based in Copenhagen backed by the Danish Blind Society, the VELUX FOUNDATIONS and the software development studio Robocat.

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Photo and video material: bemyeyes.org/press

Contact info
Hans Jørgen Wiberg (inventor and founder) Tel. +45 6085 8687 // skypename: hans.jorgen.wiberg; e-mail: hans@bemyeyes.org
Thelle Kristensen (project co-ordinator) Tel. +45 4060 0566 // skypename: thelle.k; e-mail: thelle@bemyeyes.org