Will You Be My Eyes?

April 13, 2015

Trying to learn Spanish or need help navigating the highway? Well, it’s 2015 and guess what…there’s an app for that. Since technology is becoming more and more advanced, there are apps for most things you can think of. In fact, there’s now an app that helps people who are blind with immediate difficulties they may face in their day-to-day lives. And get this, you can help! The Be My Eyes app connects the blind with sighted helpers who can help by being the app user’s eyes.

In order to download the application, users must have an iPhone 4 or newer. Be My Eyes is currently only available for iOS. Users can sign up as either “sighted” or “blind.” Sighted users are volunteer helpers for the blind. The app connects to the mobile device’s video function to show the volunteer what the blind user wants to see. The volunteer and the blind user are able to talk via video chat.

How does it work?

The visually impaired user opens the Be My Eyes app and requests help from a volunteer. The type of help requested may be anything from reading a recipe to navigating an unfamiliar area. The volunteer receives a push notification for assistance. Upon accepting the request, a live video connection is created.

How it started

In April 2012, Hans Jorgen Wiberg brought his ideas for Be My Eyes to a startup event in Aarhus, Denmark. Wiberg, who is visually impaired himself, came to the idea of Be My Eyes through work he had done at the “Danish Blind Society.” Wiberg found the team he would work with for Be My Eyes at this startup event. Together, Wiberg and his new team won the prize for “most innovative idea.” On January 15, 2015, Be My Eyes was launched.

Why am I not receiving requests for help?

When I first downloaded Be My Eyes, I impatiently waited for someone in need of assistance. Currently, the app has 200,095 sighted users and only 17,827 blind users. Since there are 11 times the amount of sighted users than blind users, receiving a request for help can be rare.

In case you were wondering, being someone’s eyes feels great!

On Tuesday March 31, I received a request through the Be My Eyes app. I received the notification from a 42-year-old-man who wanted to know how to use his new blender that he had just received for his birthday. I was able to help this man by reading the blender functions aloud and telling him which button did what. He was extremely thankful and told me that I made his day. The experience made me feel great and helping this man made my day. Helping a person who is blind proved to be very rewarding and I hope that more people become aware of the app so they can receive help or use an ability they’re lucky to have to help others.

What’s next?

The Be My Eyes app has already helped 66,892 people and this number continues to grow. The app’s sole purpose is to create a community for helping. There’s nothing sexy here – no pics to take, no captions to add, no bathroom to meet in. The growth of this app over the past three months shows that future apps with a goal of helping others have the potential to be very successful and useful. Download the app today and maybe you can be someone’s eyes.