Alkesh Sharma / Emirates Business
Imagine a day with low-vision or totally blind. How would you pair your outfit, choose your coffee brand at the supermarket or check the change at the grocery store? For 285 million people suffering from vision problems worldwide (as per the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness), these everyday tasks are really gruelling.
This was the challenge that Dubai-based ARworks tackled by creating ViaOptaDaily app, which is considered one of the freshest creative mobile ideas by Cannes Lions judging panel.
ViaOptaDaily is a personal multi-function mobile application that significantly increases the independence of the visually impaired. The smartphone app combines a total of 10 different functions enhancing visual information or converting it to audio in a total of 15 languages, including Arabic. â€œOur idea was to develop an app that could help blind and visually impaired people to move independently by creating a companion for their daily life. The sense of achievement is very rewarding. We are very proud of this project, as it shows how technology can improve peopleâ€™s lives. As the motto of this application stands â€˜the biggest help is always invisibleâ€™,â€ Szab Budahazy, CEO of ARworks, told Emirates Business.
The object, scene and colour recognition technology of the app makes the world much less of a mystery as it identifies visual information seen by the smartphone camera and provides audio detail. Another interesting feature is the appâ€™s currency recogniser, which can identify denominations of both euros and US dollars.
ARworks had taken the challenge to create a multi-function app for Novartis that could help blind users in various routine, but challenging, tasks. Two consultants, both of them blind, were integrated into the team throughout the three months of the development process. In addition, extensive research was done with regards to readily available technologies, applications, platforms and sensors.
The range of functions, design and mission critical communication make the ViaOptaDaily an extraordinary mate to blind and low-vision users and increase their confidence and independence. With the help of ViaOptaDaily, users can do things such as walk to a nearby cafÃ©, pay bills with no anxiety and dress them with greater poise.
â€œHaving won a Cannes Lions, among other awards, is an honour and proof that ARworks is a leading application developer with high values. These awards serve as incentives for us to keep building creative solutions for our diverse portfolio of clients,â€ pointed out Budahazy.
Some of the interesting features of the app include talking timer, contact book and weather report that convert text to speech. ViaOptaDaily also includes a magnifier â€“ a feature with a loupe effect that amplifies the size of objects making them clear to low-vision users.
The fact that ViaOptaDaily gathers all these features in a single application makes it unique. More and more, mobile operating system and app developers are focussing on accessibility features.
However, most mobile applications available for visually impaired people come with a single function. However, this app aims to fully exploit the functionalities of smartphones, the sensors, camera and connectivity, in a single application.