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The Redmond company revealed the effort previous year at its Build developer show, demonstrating how a more developed version might help Saqib Shaikh, a Microsoft engineer on the team who lost his sight at age 7.

The page Microsoft has set up contains a number of video demos, but since the app is free of charge to download I simply would recommend that you download it yourself to see the work Microsoft is doing in this area.

To use the app, the user must point their phone's camera, select a channel and hear a description of their surroundings. On top of that, it can quickly recognize and read short text snippets, as well as full documents and much more. As well as recognizing people it's seen before and guessing strangers' age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning barcodes.

The app not only recognizes a person based on his or her face, but can also relay mood based on facial expressions, estimate a person's proximity to the user, and describe physical characteristics.

The app can be used in conjunction with social media apps, such as Facebook, to describe images.

According to The Verge, the app operates using neural networks - a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system. The app also has what is described as an experimental feature that describes a scene, and it will soon be able to identify which bills you place in front of it.

Arthur C Clarke once said that any sufficiently advanced technology was indistinguishable from magic, and Microsoft's Seeing AI app gets pretty close to qualifying. Most others are aimed at a single task, like identifying a color or reading text aloud. Unfortunately, there's no word yet on an Android OS version of the app.


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