Microsoft’s Seeing AI App Review

Note: this app was reviewed in tandem with two other scanner apps TapTapSee, and Vhista.

Seeing AI is a scanner app for the visually impaired developed by Microsoft for the IOS app store. The app uses an AI to narrate the world to mixed results.  The app includes nine scanner modes Short Text, Handwriting, Document, Product (bar-code), Person, Currency, Scene, Color, and Light scan.

First up is short text and handwriting. While it can recognize text semi-accurately it reads it in a random order making it an unusable mess. I tried scanning the cover of my copy of A Game Of Thrones because the text is in bold print which I thought would make it easier on the app. It ended up reading it as Martin Thrones R. R.

The handwriting mode works a little differently than short text mode. Instead of the text to speech continuously spewing word vomit, the app scans it into text which you can either read yourself if you have residual vision or have the text to speech read it to you if you’re full blind. I scanned handwriting three times and two out o the three times it was correct.

The document scan was a little more accurate than short text but was still pretty hit or miss. I scanned around three documents and only one was scanned with no typos. The other two times the words were either wrong or missing entirely. So if you need to have a document read to you I would look elsewhere.

The feature I found most useful was easily the product scanner. Each time I scanned a bar code it was able to correctly determine the product name. The only issue I could find with it is that people who are fully blind may have trouble scanning a bar code. The app is supposed to beep when a bar code is close but every time I scanned a product it failed to do so.

The person scan feature worked well enough. I scanned myself multiple times and each time the app got most of my facial details and expression right. My only issue with this feature is that it tries to predict age but ended up getting my age wrong (by about a decade) every time I scanned myself (about six times).  

The currency scan feature was surprisingly accurate, every time I scanned a bill it was able to accurately tell what the amount was. The only complaint I had was that it does not scan coins.

The biggest problem I had with Seeing AI was the general scan function or scene scan as it’s called in app . Almost every object I scanned was incorrect. So if you’re downloading Seeing AI for the general scan function don’t, there are much better apps out there such as TapTapSee.

Scene Scanner Accuracy Results:


Photo: Kingdom Hearts 3 PS4 Case

Object Subtitle: It seems to be screenshot, poster, cartoon, book, pc game, action-adventure game, action film, digital compositing, clothing, strategy video game

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: Red Dead Redemption 2 PS4 Case

Object Subtitle: Probably a close up of a book

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: Blade Runner 2049 Blu-ray Case

Object Subtitle: It seems to be poster, screenshot, vehicle, car, land vehicle, person, man, human face

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: A Game Of Thrones By George R. R. Martin

Object Subtitle: Probably a close up of a sign

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: Tazo Iced Green Tea Bottle

Object Subtitle: Probably an empty bottle sitting on a table

Accuracy:  Fairly Correct


Photo: Sun-Maid Organic Raisin Pack

Object Subtitle: It seems to be food, snack, dessert, baked goods, confectionery

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: Red and White Cane for the Blind

Object Subtitle: it seems to be bicycle, bicycle wheel, indoor, toothbrush, stationary, writing implement, sports equipment, plastic, pen

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: White, Grey, and Blue Converse Sneakers

Object Subtitle: Probably a group of shoes

Accuracy: Fairly Correct


Photo: Mead Five Star Notebook

Object Subtitle: Probably a close up of a computer

Accuracy: Wrong


Photo: White and Brown English Bulldog

Object Subtitle: a brown and white dog looking at the camera

Accuracy: Mostly Correct


Pros:

  • Free
  • Currency scanner
  • Product scanner
  • Quick processing time

Cons:

  • 3/10 accuracy for general image scanning
  • Money reader can’t scan coins
  • Face scanner can’t tell age
  • Inaccurate
  • Clunky UI (User Interface)

Conclusion: Overall Seeing AI was a mixed bag for me. For each good thing it felt like there were two caveats that came with it. However I still feel the app is worth a download for the product and currency features.

6/10

Thanks for reading, please keep an eye out for our review of Vhista as well as our round up of which of the three scanner apps is the best. If you have any suggestions of a review or topic you’d like to see us cover please feel free to leave a comment.

One Comment on “Microsoft’s Seeing AI App Review

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