Do Blind People Need a Mood-Recognition App? I Think Not

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Interpreting peoples’ body language—particularly facial expressions—is one of those challenges that almost all blind people face. But soon, there will be an app for that.

Yes, you read correctly. Canada’s Metro News reported yesterday that a group of engineering students at the University of Windsor are developing an iPhone app that can recognize peoples faces—and, get this—what mood they are in. Don’t believe me? There’s even a video of the app in action on Youtube.

I first read about this app in a Windsor Star article yesterday morning, and I almost could not believe the absurdity of what I was reading.

I mean, think about it. How is this app supposed to work, exactly? What do you do—pull out your phone, point it at someone’s face, and say something like, “I’m going to take a picture of you to see who you are and what kind of mood you’re in?”

This app is a classic example of well-meaning, yet uninformed sighted people trying to help the blind with little or no knowledge of the issues blind people actually face. Instead of doing their research—like the creators of successful blindness apps such as Fleksy, Digit-Eyes, LookTel Money Reader, and Text Detective did—these developers are writing apps based on their own misconceptions about blindness. (Oh, did I mention that the Windsor students haven’t even had a blind person test this app yet?)

Unfortunately, I don’t see this problem going away any time soon. While it is true that there is definitely a market for blindness-specific apps, developers need to do thorough research before dumping valuable resources into something that could turn out to be totally useless.

But what do I know? I’m just a 20-year-old blind guy who wants to live a normal life and fit into society. And while I may be wrong, my gut tells me a mood-recognition app won’t help me with that.