Cognitive Assistants: Top 5 Must-Have Mobile Apps for People who are Blind or have Low-Vision 
Advancements in technology have opened up a world of possibilities for people who are blind or low-vision. From innovative devices that enhance visual perception to cutting-edge software that improves accessibility, technology has the potential to transform the lives of millions. With each passing day, we are witnessing an exciting new era in assistive technology that is empowering individuals who are blind or have low vision and enabling them to achieve their fullest potential.
We now turn our attention to the essential mobile apps that are must-haves for those who are blind or have low vision. We aim to showcase the wide range of mobile apps that have been developed to enhance accessibility, independence, and overall quality of life.
At Envision, we consider it a privilege to have established relationships with many of the apps listed here. We strongly believe that a well-integrated ecosystem of apps and devices can provide individuals with greater independence and freedom, enabling them to fully engage with their lives.
Here are five essential mobile apps for people who are blind or have low vision:
Envision is developed for and together with our community. The app is simple, gets things done and brings the best assistive experience to blind and low vision users.
Simply use your phone camera to scan any piece of text, your surroundings, objects, people or products and everything will be read out to you thanks to Envision’s smart artificial intelligence (AI) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
Envision is a versatile app that is fully loaded with a lot of functionality. Here’s a quick summary of all the things the Envision App can help you with:
Read all kinds of text:
• Instantly read any piece of text in over 60 different languages.
• Easily scan your paper documents (single or multiple pages) with the help of audio-guided edge detection. All content is spoken back to you and is ready for export and edit.
• Import PDFs and images to get a description of the image and recognition of all the text within it.
• Quickly read handwritten postcards, letters, lists and other paperwork.
Know what's around you:
• Effortlessly describe visual scenes around you.
• Detect colour on your clothes, walls, books, you name it.
• Swiftly scan barcodes to get extensive information about the products.
Find what you're looking for:
• Find people around you; the names of your family and friends are spoken out whenever they are in the frame.
• Find objects around you; selecting common objects from the in-app list to find them.
• Share images or documents from your phone or other apps like Twitter or WhatsApp by selecting ‘Envision It’ from the share sheet. Envision can then read and describe those images for you.
Not only can the Envision app be used on mobile and tablet devices, but it can also seamlessly connect with the Envision Glasses. This pairing enables all of the app's functionalities without requiring users to hold a phone in their hands. By utilizing the Envision glasses, users can experience true hands-free convenience and improved efficiency when navigating daily tasks.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a mobile app designed to connect blind and visually impaired individuals with sighted volunteers for visual assistance in real-time. The app was developed with the goal of enhancing the lives of blind and visually impaired individuals by providing them with the ability to navigate their daily lives with greater independence.
The app works by utilizing the camera on the user's smartphone to stream live video to a volunteer, who can then offer assistance with a variety of tasks, such as reading labels, identifying objects, and providing directions. The app is available in over 180 countries and has been translated into more than 180 languages, making it a truly global platform.
Be My Eyes has been widely praised for its innovative approach to promoting accessibility and inclusivity. It has received numerous awards, including the 2018 Google Play Award for Best Accessibility Experience and the 2017 AppleVis Golden Apple Award for Best Assistive Technology.
The app has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for both visually impaired individuals and sighted volunteers to use. Once a user requests assistance, the app connects them with a volunteer who speaks their language and is available to assist them.
The app is free to download and use, and relies on the contributions of its volunteers to provide its services. Since its launch in 2015, the Be My Eyes community has grown to include over 4 million volunteers who have helped over 300,000 users.
In summary, Be My Eyes is a powerful tool that promotes inclusivity and accessibility by connecting those who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers for real-time visual assistance. It has received widespread recognition for its innovative approach and is making a real difference in the lives of those who use it.
BlindSquare is a mobile app designed to help users navigate their environment with greater ease and independence. The app was developed by MIPsoft, a Finnish technology company, in collaboration with several organizations for the visually impaired.
The app utilizes GPS and other location-based technologies to provide users with real-time information about their surroundings. It can identify points of interest, such as nearby shops, restaurants, and landmarks, and provide turn-by-turn directions to help users reach their desired destination.
BlindSquare also has a unique feature that allows users to explore their environment using voice commands. Users can ask the app to identify nearby locations, find out what's around them, and even ask for directions to a specific location.
The app is highly customizable and can be tailored to meet the individual needs of each user. Users can adjust the app's voice volume and speed, as well as select the language they want it to speak in.
In addition to its navigation features, BlindSquare also includes a feature called Foursquare integration, which provides users with reviews and recommendations for nearby businesses and points of interest. This feature allows users to make informed decisions about where to go and what to do based on the experiences of others.
BlindSquare has received numerous accolades for its innovative approach to accessibility. It was the winner of the 2012 Mobile Premier Awards in the Accessibility category and has been featured in several publications.
In conclusion, BlindSquare is a powerful tool. Its GPS and voice command features provide users with real-time information about their environment and allow them to navigate with greater independence. Its customizability and Foursquare integration make it a versatile and valuable tool for anyone with visual impairments.
Aira is a mobile app that provides users with on-demand access to a team of certified agents who use live video streaming and augmented reality to assist with everyday tasks.
The app allows users to connect with certified agents, called Aira agents, who provide visual information and guidance for a variety of tasks. This includes navigating unfamiliar surroundings, reading labels, identifying objects, and even shopping online. The agents use live video streaming and augmented reality technology to see what the user sees and provide guidance in real-time.
In addition to the mobile app, Aira also offers the use of smart glasses, which allow users to have a hands-free experience while accessing the app's services. The glasses have a built-in camera and microphone, which provides the Aira agents with a clear view of the user's surroundings and enables them to provide even more detailed assistance.
The app offers a variety of plans, ranging from pay-per-use to monthly subscriptions, which allows users to choose a plan that best suits their needs and budget. The app is also available in several languages, making it accessible to users around the world.
Aira has received numerous awards and recognition for its innovative approach to accessibility. It won the 2017 SXSW Interactive Innovation Award for Accessibility, and has been featured in several publications.
In summary, Aira is a mobile app that provides on-demand access to a team of certified agents who can assist with a variety of tasks using live video streaming and augmented reality. Its use of smart glasses and customizable plans make it a versatile and valuable tool for anyone with visual impairments who seeks greater independence and accessibility in their daily lives.
GoodMaps Explore is a mobile app designed to help individuals who are blind or have low vision to navigate indoor and outdoor environments with greater ease and independence. The app was developed by GoodMaps, a technology company that specializes in indoor navigation and wayfinding.
The app uses advanced mapping technology and location-based services to provide users with real-time information about their surroundings. It can identify points of interest, such as nearby buildings, shops, and restaurants, and provide turn-by-turn directions to help users reach their desired destination.
One of the standout features of GoodMaps Explore is its indoor mapping capabilities. The app uses LIDAR technology to create accurate 3D maps of indoor spaces, such as malls, airports, and universities. This allows users to navigate indoor environments with greater ease and confidence.
The app also includes a variety of customizable features, such as voice commands, personalized settings for font size and color, and the ability to save favorite locations.
GoodMaps Explore is available in several languages and offers a variety of subscription plans, ranging from free to paid, depending on the level of service and access to advanced features.
In addition to its mapping and navigation features, GoodMaps Explore also includes a community feature that allows users to connect with other users and share information about accessible routes, landmarks, and points of interest.
GoodMaps Explore has received numerous accolades for its innovative approach to accessibility. It was the winner of the 2021 CES Accessibility Award and has been featured in several publications.
In conclusion, GoodMaps Explore is a powerful tool. Its advanced mapping and indoor navigation capabilities, customizable features, and community aspect make it a valuable tool for anyone seeking greater independence and accessibility in their daily lives.
In conclusion, mobile apps can be powerful tools to help people who are blind or have low vision to navigate the world around them. From Be My Eyes, which connects users with sighted volunteers, to Envision AI, which provides real-time object and text recognition, to Aira, which provides trained sighted assistance, there are many apps available that can make a significant difference in the lives of blind people.
As technology continues to advance, the capabilities of these mobile apps will only become more advanced, opening up new possibilities for people to live more independently and confidently in a world that was once inaccessible.