“It’s my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world.”
That’s a quote from Hans Jørgen Wiberg, founder of Be My Eyes app. The app recently went viral after Twitter user @Elsmoove tweeted about his experience helping a visually impaired lady pick out her almond milk, which “made her day”.
Many people were intrigued by the app and expressed interest to try it out for themselves while others shared their own heartwarming experiences.
A little background on Be My Eyes app
The Danish furniture craftsman is visually impaired and through working at the Danish Association of the Blind, he found that blind and low-vision people needed occasional help with everyday tasks. He was later told by his blind friend who used video calls to connect with family and friends who helped him with everyday tasks. That inspired an idea using video calls to help blind and visually impaired people live more independently. In April 2012, Wiberg presented the idea at a Danish startup event. From there, he was introduced to a team that went on to create the Be My Eyes app.
And the rest is history.
The app was released for iOS on 15 January 2015 and within a single day, 10,000 users registered for the app. They released the Android version on 5 October 2017 and two months later, Be My Eyes was picked as Google Play Best Apps of 2017 in “Most Innovative”, “Best Daily Helper” and “Best Hidden Gem” categories. In May 2018, the app snagged the Google Play Award 2018’s “Best Accessibility Award” before their 1 millionth volunteer signed up on the app. In October, the app garnered a total of 100,000 blind and low-vision users.
This year, Be My Eyes teamed up with Google as the new Specialized Help partner and reached a total of 2 million volunteers. It is now available in over 150 countries and over 180 languages.
How Be My Eyes app works
After registering, a blind or visually impaired person will use the app to make a live video call. A sighted volunteer can pick up the call via the app and communicate directly to help with whatever is needed.
Some common types of help (as listed on the website):
1. Finding lost or dropped items
2. Describing pictures, paintings or other pieces of artwork
3. Matching or describing colours
4. Reading labels
5. Fixing computer issues
6. Shopping for groceries
7. Identifying the expiration date on food products
8. Familiarizing yourself with new surroundings or navigating in a new place
9. Distinguishing between different items
10. Determining public transportation arrivals and departures
It’s amazing that we can help one another out with tech like this today. It’s so simple that you can do it anywhere.