A new app aims to help the blind “see” with their iPhone.
The idea behind Be My Eyes is that sometimes people who are visually impaired may need help with simple tasks but can’t easily get assistance. The app solves this by creating a platform that connects the two groups via video chat.
The app’s users are divided into two groups: sighted “helpers” and the visually impaired. When a blind user needs help, the app launches their iPhone’s rear-facing camera and connects them with a helper who can provide assistance.
The majority of the app’s users are helpers — as of this writing the app had 14,000 sighted users and 1,200 blind users. Being a helper is kind of like being on call; the app notifies random helpers that another user requires assistance, though helpers are not obligated to take the call. (If a helper declines, the app will notify more people until someone answers.)
Meant to be a kind of “micro-volunteering,” the app doesn’t incentivize helpers to actively participate, though there is a points system. The app keeps track of how many people you’ve helped on your in-app profile and users accumulate points over time based on how many times you provide assistance.
The app is free — Be My Eyes is a nonprofit and funded the app’s development with a $300,000 donation — but Wiberg says the company will have to rely on more donations in the future in order to keep it that way. If you’re blind, this app makes strangers your eyes