Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Tech | By

Google Lookout uses AI to help visually-impaired people navigate the world

Google Lookout uses AI to help visually-impaired people navigate the world

Sound Amplifier - which was also announced at last year's Google I/O - uses a phone and a set of headphones to filter, augment, and amplify sounds so that users can better hear conversations or announcements in noise-heavy environments. The search engine has obviously made some changes. If Google Lens can identify a dog's breed from a photo, there's nothing stopping it from using the same tech to help visually-impaired people, and that's where Lookout comes in.

Google Lookout app is finally here. Implementing machine learning into the app to improve the detection accuracy. Once a mode is selected, the app detects what and where objects are in the real world. There are three operation modes you can choose from, helping you "explore" your surroundings, reading barcodes and currencies for an independent "shopping" experience, and lending a hand (or rather an eye) to sort mail, as well as read signs and labels with "quick read" functionality. Thanks to AI, Lookout speaks items as it detects, making it easy to focus on daily tasks and easily navigate without obstacles. Unfortunately, a very small percentage of that staggering number can actually download Lookout from the Play Store right now, as initial support is limited to Pixel phones in the U.S. running Android 8.0 and above.

Google's Lookout app says what it sees for blind users in the US

Lookout is easy to use: Once the app is started, all the user needs to do is point the phone forward. They only have to make sure their Pixel's camera is facing out by holding their device, placing it in their shirt pocket or hanging it from a lanyard around their neck.

Google also rolled out automated closed captioning to Google Slides for US English in October, a feature that Google said makes presentations more accessible to audiences that are deaf or hard of hearing. Google says it's working to bring the app to more devices, countries and platforms soon.


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