[tabi] Fwd: [awannouncements] FW: A Review of the Be My Eyes Remote Sighted Helper App for Apple iOS, Dan's tip for February 16 2015

  • From: Lynn Evans <austin.evans60@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:21:04 -0500

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Begin forwarded message:

> From: "'Robert Acosta' boacosta@xxxxxxxxxxx [awannouncements]" 
> <awannouncements-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Date: February 16, 2015 at 3:31:47 PM EST
> To: "tektalk discussion" <tektalkdiscussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: [awannouncements] FW: A Review of the Be My Eyes Remote Sighted 
> Helper App for Apple iOS, Dan's tip for February 16 2015
> Reply-To: awannouncements-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Robert Acosta, President
> Helping Hands for the Blind
> (818) 998-0044
> www.helpinghands4theblind.org
> From: dan Thompson [mailto:dthompson5@xxxxxxxxx] 
> Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 11:05 AM
> To: dan Thompson
> Subject: A Review of the Be My Eyes Remote Sighted Helper App for Apple iOS, 
> Dan's tip for February 16 2015
> I personally have used this service severaltimes over the last few weeks.  
> The helpers are patient, kind and quite prompt picking up on their end.  
> What's really awesome  is that the service is free. 
> A Review of the Be My Eyes Remote Sighted Helper App for Apple iOS
> Bill Holton
> Contributer to AFB'S Access world Technology Magazine February 2015
> Source link is below
> http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw160202
> Many iPhone users with visual impairments use a video FaceTime or Skype call 
> with a friend for a brief session of sighted help—to find a hotel room door, 
> for instance, or to help set the controls on a washer or dryer. But what if 
> your friends or family members are not available when you need assistance? Or 
> maybe you call the same person again and again, and you worry you might be 
> overstaying your welcome?
> Mobile identification and text recognition apps such as TapTapSee, Talking 
> Goggles, and the KNFB Reader can take up a lot of the slack, but there are 
> times when you really do need a working pair of eyeballs. Now, thanks to a 
> new iOS app called Be My Eyes, sighted help is just a tap away.
> How Be My Eyes Works
> Be My Eyes pairs sighted volunteers with visually impaired individuals who 
> would appreciate a bit of remote assistance. The app is free both to download 
> and to use.
> For visually impaired users, the app could not be simpler to use. Most of the 
> screen is taken up by a single control to connect you to the first available 
> helper. Double tap this button and your device will announce, "Creating 
> connection request." A few seconds later a sort of electronic ring tone 
> begins to play, and soon you are connected to a sighted volunteer through a 
> two-way audio and one-way video connection using the opentok/tokbox video 
> platform.
> Read more about this platform here:
> https://tokbox.com/
> The volunteer can view your environment through the higher-resolution 
> rear-facing camera. With a connection established, you can converse with the 
> volunteer, introduce yourself (if you like), and ask for help with whatever 
> identification task is at hand. You can disconnect at any time.
> When you first open the app you are asked if you need assistance or wish to 
> provide it. In either case you are required to register. You can do this 
> using your Facebook credentials, or you can create a Be My Eyes account with 
> your name, e-mail address and the password of your choice. More about this 
> later.
> If you register as a helper, you merely need to leave the app running in the 
> background. When it's your turn to offer assistance, the app will alert you. 
> If you don't respond within 10 seconds or so, the app servers will move onto 
> the next person in the queue and alert them. "At first we tried pinging ten 
> people at once, so people requesting assistance would not have to wait so 
> long for a response, but we started getting e-mails from volunteers who were 
> frustrated because they wanted to help, but were not the first to respond," 
> says Hans Jørgen Wiberg, the service's founder.
> Turning an Idea into a Service
> Like many of us, after a few remote FaceTime sessions, Wiberg had the idea 
> that we could more easily obtain sighted help if there were only some way to 
> tap into a wider network than just our friends and family. Unlike most of us, 
> however, Wiberg put action to thought, and he isn't even a programmer. 
> Wiberg, who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, is a part-time upholsterer and 
> Regional Chairman of the Danish Association of the Blind.
> https://blind.dk/
> Wiberg took his idea to a local startup meeting, where people come together 
> to exchange and refine ideas for new businesses and services. There he teamed 
> up with seven others, none of whom were programmers. They formalized their 
> idea and began searching for grant money.
> With just a few thousand donated Danish Krone, the group hired outside 
> developers to create an iOS app. They released it in the Danish App Store in 
> November of 2014, and beta tested it with just a handful of users. After the 
> user base reached 150 blind users and 400 helpers, the group was awarded a 
> substantial grant from Velux, a Danish window and skylight company. 
> Development continued until January 15, when the Be My Eyes app and service 
> were released worldwide.
> "The response was more than we dreamed," says Wiberg. "In just a few days we 
> had over 60,000 users, most of them potential helpers," he says. "The signups 
> came so fast, by the end of the second day we had to suspend the service 
> while we moved to the largest server our provider can host."
> The main app screen displays a running count of the number of sighted and 
> blind users who are registered. It also displays the number of individuals 
> who have been helped—over 10,000 in the first six days. A future app update 
> will also include the numbers of volunteers who are currently available. 
> "This will help users have some idea of how long it will take to either offer 
> or receive help," says Wiberg.
> Putting Be My Eyes Through its Paces
> I first tried Be My Eyes just a few days after it was released. The first two 
> attempts were unsuccessful: after 20 minutes I had not yet been connected to 
> a volunteer. I was using the app late on a Sunday evening, around the time 
> when the servers were being swamped with setup requests, so those 
> circumstances may have played a part in the delays.
> The next day I tried the app several times, and each time I was connected 
> within 2 minutes. According to Wiberg, this is the norm. "There are going to 
> be people who for some reason cannot answer an alert in time, and we have to 
> connect to several different helpers, one at a time, before a request is 
> answered. Other times there may be server problems caused by our rapid 
> growth. My advice to users seeking help is that if there is no response 
> within 3 or 4 minutes, disconnect and immediately try again."
> My first Monday call was answered by a woman in Britain. My question was 
> simple: "Is this package of teabags caffeinated or decaf?" "Caffeinated," 
> came the reply, and after a quick "thank you," I disconnected. Total time: 
> less than 2 minutes from start to finish.
> My second request was answered by a man in California. He helped me access my 
> thermostat and find the LCD off setting.
> My third session was answered by a man in Germany. I had inadvertently left 
> the plastic cover to a vegetable seed starter on the patio table, and 
> sometime during the night it had blown away. Together the volunteer and I 
> search the backyard for it. We did not find it, but the help was still useful 
> as it saved me the considerable time I might have spent walking around the 
> yard, hoping to encounter it.
> One task I did not try, and hope I do not have cause to for some time to 
> come, is getting help with the computer error message that has in the past 
> locked up my screen reader or prevented it from booting. My computer seems to 
> know when all of my friends and family are unavailable. It must—why else 
> would it always choose those times to crash?
> On initial setup, the Be My Eyes app uses your iOS device's default language 
> setting to direct your calls. English speaking helpers are always connected 
> with English speaking help requesters, French with French, and so forth. But 
> the app's Setting menu offers you the ability to add additional languages, 
> which is how I was able to connect with an English speaking helper in Germany.
> Privacy
> According to Wiberg, your personal information is not shared with the helper. 
> You may then wonder why you need to enter your name and e-mail address to 
> create a Be My Eyes account. When I posed this question, Wiberg replied, 
> "Both the helper and user can report a problem member, and we can then block 
> that [account] and prevent [the user] from returning." Unfortunately, the 
> version I tested, 1.2 (45), did not require any e-mail verification, which 
> means someone could make up a series of false accounts and cause mischief. 
> Perhaps verification will be a part of an update in a future version.
> Common sense would dictate that Be My Eyes users avoid asking questions about 
> bank or credit card statements, medical reports, or any other information you 
> want to remain private. Wiberg offers a useful rule of thumb: "If you were 
> walking down a street and needed to know what you are considering asking [a 
> Be My Eyes helper], would you feel uncomfortable asking a stranger?" If so, 
> find some other way to obtain the information. Some may wish to consider the 
> opposite scenario: Perhaps there is something you wish to keep private from 
> your friends and family?
> It's probably best to avoid asking a Be My Eyes helper to assist in 
> orientation at a busy intersection or other potentially dangerous scenario. 
> Currently, the app contains no rating system for users to weed out what I can 
> only believe would be a very few bad apples.
> What's Ahead for the Be My Eyes App
> Wiberg is determined to keep the service free. He states that currently they 
> have enough money to pay for development and server resources through next 
> September. Consequently, I would not be surprised to see a Donate button pop 
> up in a future release of the app, on the company's website, or both.
> The app is currently available only for iOS devices. There are no immediate 
> plans to create an Android version.
> Ironically, the biggest hurdle Be My Eyes currently faces is finding enough 
> blind users. "The response to the opportunity to become volunteers has been 
> overwhelming," says Wiberg. "If they don't get the chance to become fully 
> involved, they may grow frustrated and uninstall the app."
> Until I uninstalled it, I had a dinosaur app on my iPhone to entertain my 
> granddaughter. Every so often, even when the app was not running, I received 
> an alert asking if I wanted to play. I can see many potential helpers who 
> might reset their phone or change devices, and forget to restart the app. 
> Perhaps a future update might include a similar gentle reminder to those with 
> the app installed but left closed for several weeks?
> I also hope Wiberg and his colleagues publish a Be My Eyes API that would 
> enable other apps to seamlessly link to the app. BlindSquare, which we 
> reviewed in the July 2014 AccessWorld , offers the ability to reach out to 
> someone in your contact list for a bit of e-mail or text message help. 
> Imagine how much more powerful BlindSquare, or the Seeing Eye App for iPhone, 
> would be if users could request sighted help directly from within their 
> accessible navigation app?
> As it is now, Be My Eyes is an extremely powerful platform whose time has 
> come. I will still keep both TapTapSee and KNFB Reader on my iPhone home 
> screen, but Be My Eyes will definitely be my fallback—and in many instances, 
> my go-to—resource for those times when greater independence can best be 
> achieved by knowing when and how to ask for help.
> Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!       
> Psalm 128:1-5
> To subscribe to Dan's tips or HotSpot with God Daily Devotional, send a blank 
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  • » [tabi] Fwd: [awannouncements] FW: A Review of the Be My Eyes Remote Sighted Helper App for Apple iOS, Dan's tip for February 16 2015 - Lynn Evans