Microsoft's talking camera app for visually impaired users now reads rupee notes

Microsoft's talking camera app for visually impaired users now reads rupee notes
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
6 Jun, 2018

Tech giant Microsoft’s talking camera app for the visually impaired can now detect Indian currency notes and narrate denominations to users.

Microsoft said that the app, called Seeing AI, is able to identify all notes in circulation including the latest currency bills. The government has introduced several newly-designed notes and new denominations since undertaking a demonetisation exercise in late-2016.

"Currency bills are particularly challenging to identify, as they come in different sizes and textures, and are often modified by government," Microsoft said in a statement. 

The firm said that people who are blind or have low vision typically fold these notes in different shapes to be able to recognise and use them when needed. 

Seeing AI works by combining artificial intelligence and rich computer vision to narrate the world around to users in real-time.

With the latest addition of Indian rupee detection, the app now supports five different currencies including the euro, the US and Canadian dollars as well as the British pound. 

Seeing AI is currently available on the iOS App Store in 56 countries. Microsoft said that the app has completed over 5 million tasks for 30,000 monthly active users since its launch in July last year.

Seeing AI is part of the Microsoft's AI for Accessibility project that chief executive Satya Nadella revealed during the company's annual Build developer conference earlier this year. 

The Redmond-headquartered tech giant has developed other technologies as well that improve accessibility. 

While Read Aloud could help a user listen to written text with simultaneous highlighting of each word in the Edge browser or in the Microsoft Office suite, Helpicto turns voice commands into images.

"Microsoft Translator captions conversations real-time, empowering people who are deaf or hard of hearing,” the company's India unit wrote in a blog post.

“Closer home, a cutting-edge deep neural network (DNN)-powered translator for Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali is bridging the digital language divide and making the internet accessible for millions. Microsoft Research India has come up with an AI-powered Interactive Cane that aids people with visual disabilities," 

Microsoft also runs initiatives in the broader healthcare space.

Recently, Apollo Hospitals partnered with Microsoft’s AI Network for Healthcare to develop an India-specific heart risk score and better predict cardiac diseases for the general population.

The effort will combine Apollo’s database and expertise in the field, and Microsoft’s cloud and AI tools. It is part of Microsoft Healthcare NExT, which aims to accelerate healthcare innovation through AI and cloud computing.