Be My Eyes app: the kind leading the blind
Be My Eyes is an app that allows the blind and the visually-impaired to rely on the kindness of strangers. While it probably would not have helped Johnny Depp in his Mexican stand-off at the end of Once Upon a Time in Mexico – though he should give it a chance nonetheless; it just might help him choose better scripts – this non-profit, crowdsourced app can make daily activities like reading the labels on food packages much easier for people with limited vision, as well as give good Samaritans from all over the world – and not just Israel where the extant population resides –the opportunity to help others.
The app was launched on January 15th and so far about 100,000 volunteers have helped more than 7,700 visually-impaired people some 19,660 times, according to the company’s website. The application, developed by 50-year-old Danish furniture craftsman Hans Jorgen Wilberg, connects people in 80 languages and from such diverse locations as California, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. “Normally, I would try to see if a neighbor was home. If no one was home, I would start making phone calls to people who had computers or iPhones hoping someone would pick up,” Be My Eyes user Ashley Summers told NBC News. Sam Marcus from New York guided Summers – who has retinal degeneration and can only make out shapes and shadows – through the instructions on a box of muffin mix over video chat.
Wilberg was inspired to create the app when a blind friend told him he used his iPhone’s Facetime to get assistance. “Now you can ask for help, without really asking. The person is 100% there to help you,” the Dane said. “I really hope that blind people will do something that otherwise they wouldn’t dare to do or be afraid to do. Even just cooking some food for their loved ones.” Summers called the app “ingenious” and said she feels like she “always has someone that can help.”