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Be My Eyes: future tech assisting sight loss

Back in 2017, we worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and software developer RealThing Entertainment to launch In Your Pocket, an intelligent mobile device specifically designed for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Until now, simple and timely access to audio content like talking newspapers hasn’t been an option for most of the two million people affected by sight loss in the UK. But In Your Pocket is a game changer. It comprises a mobile phone and smart device, pre-loaded with daily newspapers, popular magazines, audiobooks and podcasts. Its voice-controlled user interface, supported with artificial intelligence, makes it the simplest device to use today.

From December 2018, In Your Pocket gets better still, because it now includes an integration with the Be My Eyes vision assistant. With Be My Eyes integration, In Your Pocket is transitioning from a voice controlled phone and media device into a device that supports independent living.

Be My Eyes connects the In Your Pocket user to a network of more than one million sighted volunteers who are ready to provide them with visual assistance for any task. The user just has to say “Be My Eyes”. They can request assistance at any time of the day, from any location. And best of all, it’s always free.

Volunteers can view and describe whatever the user’s phone sees. So they can help with hundreds of everyday tasks like:

  • Matching socks
  • Reading labels on household products or food tins
  • Finding out the time of an appointment in a letter
  • Finding lost or dropped items
  • Describing pictures, paintings or other pieces of artwork
  • Identifying expiry dates on fresh food items

In Your Pocket is already changing the lives of blind and partially sighted people throughout the UK, granting them access to content and life enriching experiences that most of us take for granted. As one user, Janene Sadhu said:

“I have spoilt some of my husband’s stories, because now I get the same articles that he reads in the newspapers”

Now, with the integration of the Be My Eyes vision assistant, In Your Pocket can significantly support independent living. Better still, it is being rolled out to all existing users as well as new ones.

Do you know someone who would benefit from In Your Pocket? You can find out more, and place an order online at the In Your Pocket website.

At O2 we are always looking for new ways to promote inclusivity through technology for all of our customers. O2 is a proud founder member of The Inclusive Economy Partnership, just one example of our ongoing work to make a positive difference and achieve our ambition of helping 20 million people live better with technology by 2020.

O2 and RNIB have been working in partnership on a number of ways to deliver significant social impact for blind or partially sighted customers. Our aim is to change lives through improved accessibility and digital inclusion. In Your Pocket is just one way we are doing this.

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