By Randy Pierce
Using Voice Over on my Apple (IOS) device has been one of the many liberating solutions to many blind challenges. Recently an application called “TapTapSee” was made available for free! It’s a one-button push camera which then uses servers on the internet to process the picture and report back a brief description of the image. While not flawless, the power of this product is incredible as it quickly identified Quinn as “A yellow labrador retriever lying on a blue rug.”
I’ve loved the power of this simple-to-use application which provides me a considerable amount of information I might not otherwise gather. I’ve tested it in many situations to get a description of a hotel room, a table setting, my own clothes, find my favorite mug and even learn what various friends are wearing. The most detailed example it ever provided was in accurately describing a friend who was wearing “man in a cookie monster T-shirt with a plaid coat and pajamas.”
The thought of that level of description for my friend is powerful but it also leads to a concern. While I certainly appreciate the power to basically turn on a snapshot of sight for a moment, when is this process an invasion of privacy and how far will this technology develop?
An ideal potential development might be the ability to shoot continuous video and have description which might even use facial recognition to identify which of my friends are nearby. But the challenge is that all of these images are being loaded onto the web and processed, which means there is an even greater privacy impact. Is the benefit of this to a blind person worth the impact on all those in “sight” of the camera?
These questions are going to be raised and I think it’s worthwhile to discuss them now. So what are your thoughts?