Google focuses a lot on accessibility. As we all know, their search engine ranking criteria require a website to follow WCAG Accessibility guidelines. It is not surprising that they will launch an app aimed at helping visually impaired people. And as expected after the idea was unveiled 10 months ago, Google’s revolutionary Lookout app is finally available on Play Store. The app is meant to help visually impaired and blind people detect objects lying in front of them through their camera phone. There is a minor catch, however. The app is currently released for Pixel users residing in the United States. It will work in Google Pixel, Pixel 2, Pixel 3 which are powered by at least version 8 of the Android operating system.
The idea of the app was unveiled 10 months ago at 2018 I/O Developer Conference. Although the app is for limited users only, Google has promised that the app will be very soon made available for other platforms, devices as well as countries. Since the idea was unveiled, Google has been still working on improvising the app. With the release of Lookout, another app has been added to Google’s list of accessibility applications.
How Does it Work?
Just like Google Lens, Lookout also uses Artificial intelligence
- The user only has to start the application once, without any need to tap any in-app button.
- The users only have to point their smartphone or handheld device in multiple directions.
- The app searches for objects through the device’s camera lens.
- Lookout does its job by telling the users about what is in front of them, either an object or a text or a person.
What makes it special is, it also reads labels and road signs, identifies currencies and scans barcodes. The barcode scanning feature is really helpful since the users don’t need to worry about whether they are paying the right amount for a product they purchased. All you need to do is scan the barcode and the app will tell you the correct price of the product. To properly use it, Google recommends hanging the Pixel device on your neck using a lanyard or keeping the device in your front pocket in a way that the camera lens always points out.
What Is Google Saying?
Google’s Accessibility Engineering’s product manager, Patrick Clary released a blog on which he stated that the app is aimed to help people when they are visiting a new place and require to ask for help, complete their daily chores or require to read a document. However, the app is still new and Google requires user feedbacks in order to fix any bugs or improve it because just like any other newly developed technology, Lookout is also not 100% perfect in what it does. Luckily this is not the first time when a tech giant is releasing an Accessibility application. Previously in 2017, we have seen Microsoft launch a very similar app named Seeing AI. It is accessible only for iOS users. This week, an update to Seeing AI is also launched which uses haptic feedback and allows the users to feel the object’s shape on their mobile screens.