VizWiz

Category: 

Description of App: 

VizWiz lets blind users recruit remote sighted workers to help them with visual problems in nearly real-time. Users take a picture with their phone, speak a question, and then receive multiple spoken answers.
 

  • VizWiz Social combines automatic and human-powered services to answer visual questions for users with visual impairments.
  • VizWiz Social is an iPhone app that allows blind users to receive quick answers to questions about their surroundings. VizWiz Social combines automatic image processing, anonymous web workers, and members of the user's social network in order to collect fast and accurate answers to their questions.

Version: 

1.4.5

Free or Paid: 

Free

Device(s) App Was Tested On: 

iPhone 4

Accessibility Comments: 

This app requires both a camera and an internet connection to work, so although it is billed as working on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, you'll need to use an iPod Touch 4G or an iPad 2 (devices with cameras) if you are not using an iPhone. This is different from oMoby and Noogle Noggles (now no longer available), because you can speak a question about the item you take a picture of. This may also mean a slightly longer wait for a reply while the app is "processing". (My tests on identifying canned goods were answered through IQ Engines rather than crowd sourcing.) Be sure to read through the tutorial on the VizWiz website.

VoiceOver Performance: 

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling: 

All buttons are clearly labeled.

Usability: 

The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Other Comments: 

Unlike oMoby, this doesn't save a history of results, but you can ask specific questions. This is a free app that appears to be available internationally. It was developed by the Rochester Human-Computer Interaction group (ROCHCI), and you can read more about the scholarly aspects of this project at the University of Rochester web page for this project: http://hci.cs.rochester.edu/vizwiz/

Comments

a quick note

Just letting all Verizon users know that this app does not work on this version of the iPhone. Quite annoying, and I don't understand why it is like this.

It'll be fixed in a week.

The developer of VizWiz has posted on Twitter saying the inability to run on Verizon iPhones will be fixed in approximately one week.

Verizon iPhone

I emailed the developer and they say this will be fixed in the next update, hopefully within a week.

Nice!

This app is great. A note to others, just like the other apps like this one, you have to center the object as much as you can. I was taking a picture of my Pantech Matrix box to try to identify it, and i got back the answer, "It is too far to the right, I can't see it." But after i tried to center the box, the app knew exactly what it was. It even sent back the full answer which was, "Pantech Matrix C740 box." Again. thanks for poasting up this app. An update! The app is so cool, that when I tested it out with something crazy like my dad's watch, It told me the time, and what kind of watch it was! It tripped my dad out to see something work so well for blind and low vision people.

It works great on my iPod

It works great on my iPod Touch 4g. I took a picture of a can of tomatoes and asked if they were stewed or whole peeled, and I got an answer back in seconds. Amazing.

random question

Does anyone know how much the workers are paid to answer these questions? I wouldn't want to waste lots of money just playing around with it.

Vizwiz great for blind, but could also work for deaf-blind

An app that blind users of iOS devices are raving about is called Vizwiz. Vizwiz allows a user to take a picture, ask a question, and then have both the image and audio sent to anonymous workers to receive an answer to a question. The question can range from anything such as "what type of soda is this?" To something more complex such as "can you please tell me what street sign is on my left?" While money identifiers, barcode scanners, and OCR engines are great software tools, there are just some things human interaction is best suited for. For example, when I first started using the app, I took a picture of a can of soup. the IQ database couldn't figure it out, and a live person told me that "it's a can of soup, but I can't tell what kind. Try raising the camera a few inches and try again". I did, and found out that I had a can of steak and potato soup in front of me. While I could have had a reader identify this for me, there was none available, and Vizwiz saved the day! If you have someone who is willing to help and is not a volunteer, you have the option of submitting your question to someone specific via email. There is also the option of tweeting your question via Twitter. For each question submitted, a user typically gets 3 answers. One from something called an IQ database which is a service that uses object recognition software to try to identify the object that is most in focus in the image. The other 2 answers come from volunteers who actually look at the image and send their answer back to the user. The only issue I had while using this app was that, while on 3g sometimes, I would have to submit my audio and image 2 or 3 times before it would go through. out of 10 tries on wifi, 9 out of the 10 were submitted on the first try. I suspect this may be a bandwidth issue, as my wifi connection (20mbps up and 50mbps down) was able to upload the image and audio much more quickly. As the app was designed with individuals who have low vision or are blind in mind, all portions of the app are easily accessible with both speech and braille output. Clearly, the researchers at Rochester University put a lot of time and effort in to this project, and I commend them for such a service. A suggestion I have for improvement would also allow deaf-blind users of iProducts to take advantage of this app. While braille support is good, a user must speak their question. For someone who does not have this capability, implementing a feature whereby a user can submit a question by text would allow those who are deaf-blind to access this app. Also, as the app struggled to submit content via 3g, it would consume less bandwidth to send a text with an image instead of an audio file. Vizwiz is available free in the Ap Store. It has been reported to work well with iOS 4, and works fine on beta 7 of iOS 5, which is what I used to conduct this evaluation. For more information on Vizwiz, visit them on the web at: http://vizwiz.org/

follow-up to my earlier post

I sent the info I posted here to the developers, and they say they plan to include a text question feature in a future release. It's great to see a responsive development team on this app!

general question

I saw in a comment that this app didn't work with Verizon phones when it was first developed. Has anyone tried it with a verizon phone since then? Does it work?

Is it just me?

I'm no longer having much luck with VizWiz since the latest update. I take the picture, but get stuck on the record a question screen. I double tap the record button, and then nothing happens. Well most of the time. Sometimes i can get a record, and an in progress button, but most of the time I get nothing. Once, I made it to the select sources screen, but I couldn't get beck there on many subsequent attempts.

Potential for battery drain

Apparently version 1.4.1 has a bug which causes the app to continue tracking your location even after you close it. Obviously this could be a major drain on your battery.

This has been reported to the developer, so should hopefully be fixed in the next update. For now, you might want to disable VizWiz from having access to location services, which can be done via the main Settings app on your iDevice.

Wow, what an app!!!

The capabilities of this app truly made me speechless. Last night I had to identify a tiny bottle with a small label on it without sighted assistance around. I gave VizWiz a try. On my very first try within 1 minute I got two responses: one from a webworker an the other from an IQ engine. The webworker told me one part of the label and the IQ engine the other part which was the crucial information in this case. And both of them told me the colour of the bottle which I hadn't even asked, that would have been my next question :-)) I am really taken back by how far object recognition has progressed. I truly hope there will be enough enthusiastic webworkers to keep VizWiz operating for a long time. Long live VizWiz!!!

Version 1.4.3

 

Now supports IOS 6 plus some nice new features!

What's New in Version 1.4.3

- iOS 6 and iPhone 5 Support.
- Performance enchancements.
- You can now choose a photo from library in the first page. (Left bottom button)
- You can now play back your recorded question before sending it to your selected sources. (Right bottom button)
- No longer supports iOS 4.2 or lower versions.
- Minor bug fixes.

I'm glad they added the

I'm glad they added the ability to re-listen to audio questions. I'm often not sure I got the recording right. I contacted them about a feature suggestion, and got an almost instant response. I asked about setting a default, or saving the last email address. It may show up in a future release. It's always great to find developers this responsive and positive. VizWiz continues to be one of my "go to" apps.

I agree. Viswis is one of my

I agree. Viswis is one of my personal best apps. I did a podcast which I destroyed as the recording quality was so bad I myself would not listen to it comparing the 2 apps, digit eyes and viswis and viswis not only was faster but it got the product correct. It was a box of fruit snacks. I hate fruit snacks. lol! I can't wait to try out the new version.

I see Digit Eyes and VizWiz

I see Digit Eyes and VizWiz as having different purposes for me. I use Digit Eyes when I need to identify something out of my pantry or fridge, and where having more product detail is important. For example, cooking instructions and ingredients. I use VizWiz to identify things I can't quite get with Digit Eyes. I suppose on some level, part of my decision for using VizWiz as a "fall back" app is that it employs other people. I guess I prefer to think of relying on computers rather than volunteers. I also use LookTel recognizer for things like my hand labeled spice rack. It's all great stuff.

Version 1.4.4

What's New in Version 1.4.4

- Bug fixes and performance enhancements;
- Now the app remembers the email address you choose to send the questions to, toggle the new switch to turn on/off email asking service;
- An audio hint when the camera successfully gets focused (Only available when VoiceOver is on).

Version 1.4.5

New Audio Hints for taking picture is the new feature in the update.

 

What's New in Version 1.4.5

 

- Now VizWiz will give you audio hint when it thinks the scene before your camera is too dark. (Only when VoiceOver is on)
- Bug fixes and performance improvements.

Version 1.4.6

Now this is very interesting. Removal of the IQ Engine because they have shutdown.

So in short.

It means that this app is now strictly for human interaction. You can take the picture of the object. It can be sent to a Web Worker or by one of your Friends on a variety type of Social Networking. The IQ Engine was one of the way that an image could be recognized without a human interaction. So there is no more computer database compairison to give you a result.

This will be interesting how OMoby and TapTapSee will be effected if any?

What's New in Version 1.4.6

- iOS 7 compatibility.
- Removed IQ Engines option because their service is shut down. We are working on an alternative.
- Bug fixes and performance improvements.

 

just saying

just saying, but tap tap c was so much better than this app ever was.