The saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ has long since been confined to the world of metaphor, and it seemed to have a relatively happy place there amongst the student who draws a picture for his essay and the parent who claims they know when their child is lying because of their face.
For Matt Richardson though, this wasn’t quite enough. The New York University graduate decided that perhaps the idea of a camera for the blind wasn’t quite as absurd as it first seemed, and dragged the concept kicking and screaming into the literal world.
The camera relies quite heavily on Amazon’s ‘Technical Turk’ website; a branch of Amazon which offers the technically minded the chance to earn a bit of cash for performing small tasks for others. When the little snap button is pressed on the camera, the data is uploaded to the website and a very kind soul types out a description of the image to be sent back and printed out from the camera.
As with any new piece of technology, there are a few downsides. For one thing, it’ll cost you just under £1 to pay for an image to be described – and even then it will likely take around 5 minutes for the information to be relayed back to you.
What’s more is that, as it stands, I must admit to you that I was bending the truth a little when I termed it a ‘camera for the blind’. Certainly it’s got the potential to be one, but as of yet it’s no more use for the visually impaired to have a print off description than it is to have the photo shown on screen.
Some better news
It’s not all bad news though, and my little white lie might not be a lie for too much longer. Richardson has been kind enough to allow the user to upload the pictures they take and send them to friends to be described for free – though you’d have to have some fairly dedicated friends.
The best news is that this is just the start. The idea behind the camera is that in the not so distant future we’ll be able to produce another similar piece of kit with the ability to read the description itself and speak it out to the user. That might sound like a tough task, but computers have been doing things like this for years, and it seems like now the camera can receive text we’ve already done the hard part.
With that in mind, this is definitely something worth keeping an eye on, and it’s certainly an admirable task Matt has taken on.
Rob writes about technology in our modern world for spectacles online experts DirectSight.