Tech For Good: Be My Eyes

In the spirit of keeping things positive, and looking on the bright side of technology, I’ve been keen to explore some of the more interesting things technology can do to enhance our lives, and the lives of those around us.

Our iPhones (other phones do exist, or so I hear) and iPads have improved our lives in numerous ways. They help us find our way, capture and share magical moments with friends and family, and even let us browse through pages and pages of cute animals at a whim.

Many of us spend hours reading reviews about the latest and greatest To Do app, or email client, but there is often not much said about how these powerful devices can be used to not only help us remember to put the bins out on a Tuesday, but also enhance and even improve the lives of those in need around us. Allow me to change that, in my own little way, with a very specific use case.

I recently discovered an app called ‘Be My Eyes’. The team behind the app provides this short, but succinct, description about what it’s all about:

Be My Eyes is an app made up of a global community that connects people who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers and company representatives through a live video call.

In essence, it’s very simple, but it can have a huge positive impact on someones life. After downloading the app, you create an account, let them know what languages you speak and you’re done. You then sit back and await a notification indicating that one of the currently ~100,000 blind members of the community need some assistance with something. The assistance will, as you can imagine, involve helping an individual to read a letter or notice they’ve received, read an instruction manual or perhaps describe an item of clothing the individual has received as a gift.

I was first turned onto the app via the Late Night Alternative With Iain Lee podcast, which also spoke a bit about another alternative app, called BeSpecular which is the same idea, but a little less direct. At the time of writing, the sign-up page for BeSpecular seems to not be accepting new applicants, but you can sign up still from within the app itself.

If you have a little time on your hands on occasion, in-between cute cat videos on Reddit, it would be a great idea to take advantage of one of the above services to improve someone’s day, even if just a little bit. Not only will you be helping people, you may even find it quite fun and, BeSpecular in particular, could even be a fun game to play with the help of your children. It’ll teach them the importance of helping others, and to also make them aware that not everyone is life is as able bodied as others, and we could all use a helping hand at times.

If you get one of the apps above, and give it a try, I’d love to hear about your experiences with it. Please feel free to give me a shout on Twitter.