InclusionHub Founding Partner Be My Eyes, a leading mobile app that connects people who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers, has announced the launch of its latest innovation, the Be My Eyes Virtual Volunteer™. This new feature is the first-ever digital visual assistant powered by OpenAI’s new GPT-4 language model, which contains a dynamic new image-to-text generator.
The Virtual Volunteer feature will be integrated into the existing Be My Eyes app, and users can send images via the app to an AI-powered Virtual Volunteer, which will answer any question about that image and provide instantaneous visual assistance for a wide variety of tasks.
“We are entering the next wave of innovation for accessibility technology powered by AI. This new Be My Eyes feature will be transformative in providing people who are blind or have low vision with powerful tools to better navigate physical environments, address everyday needs, and gain more independence,” said Mike Buckley, CEO of Be My Eyes. “We are thrilled to work with OpenAI to further our mission of improving accessibility for the 253 million people who are blind or have low-vision, with safe and accessible applications of generative AI.”
What sets the Virtual Volunteer tool apart from other image-to-text technology available today is context, with a deeper level of understanding and conversational ability not yet seen in the digital assistant field. For example, if a user sends a picture of the inside of their refrigerator, the Virtual Volunteer will not only be able to correctly identify what’s in it but also offer a number of recipes for those ingredients and send a step-by-step guide on how to make them. If and when the tool is unable to answer a question, it will automatically offer users the option to be connected via the app to a sighted volunteer for assistance.
The Be My Eyes Virtual Volunteer tool, currently in beta testing, aligns with OpenAI’s stated principles on developing safe and responsible AI, and is a powerful resource that will better support the blind and low-vision community through the app. It will also offer a way for businesses to better serve their customers by prioritizing accessibility. Be My Eyes plans to begin beta testing this with its corporate customers in the coming weeks, and make it broadly available later this year as part of its Specialized Help offering.
Be My Eyes is continuously working to improve its technology and experience. It plans to apply this technology to provide people with powerful tools and capabilities to enrich their virtual assistant experience in amazing and complex ways they never thought would be possible. The Virtual Volunteer tool is a significant step in achieving its mission to improve accessibility, usability, and access to information globally.
In an upcoming episode of The InclusionHub Podcast, Be My Eyes Founder Hans Wiberg says 430,000 blind and low-vision people use the app and 6.1 million are signed up as volunteers. The app currently supports people in 185 different languages.