“Another, called VizWiz, allowed them to take a picture of an item and pose questions about it to an online community of sighted people.
At one point, Charlson posted the question, “What does this box say?” Seconds later, a response was read aloud by the device: “Honey Maid graham crackers,” the phone said.
With VizWiz, “I have 10,000 people in my pocket waiting to help me,” Charlson said. “It’s amazing.”
One of our current Innovocracy funding Projects is VizWiz, a iPhone/iPad app that reads print for visually disabled people. The premise is simple but the execution is complex: The user points their iOS device at printed material and takes a photo. The photo is transmitted to a website where a volunteer reads it aloud. That reading is transmitted to the device, in real time, and it is read back to the user.
VizWiz is raising money on Innovocracy to make their app scalable, in other words to go from serving 5000 users with over 50,000 translations to many times that. The funds they raise will help the app reach many more people without compromising quality. This not only means increasing their volunteer base and the ability of their web site to handle volume but it also puts them on a path to automating the translation from print to speech.
“Despite their limitations, the apps are still a means to reducing such dependence on others, according to Charlson. “There’s absolutely a rush,” he said. “There’s a feeling of acceptance and inclusion that only comes as a result of a high level of independence.”
As we’ve written about, Innovocracy is not just about creating profitable products and services. These products need to have a core function that benefits society. VizWiz is a prime example of how this works. The app is free and the volunteers are unpaid. The users’ quality of life is impacted in a meaningful and positive way. And all it takes is a donation of a few dollars from you to take this to the next level. To Donate Visit This Page.
We see that as a total win-win situation.
VizWiz was developed out of research from the University of Rochester, a founding Innovocracy Network Member Institution.