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Be My Eyes For Android

Thursday 5 October 2017
Of the millions of apps that are launched many of them are a waste of time, either because they are dire or because they are so compelling they literally waste your time. The Be My Eyes app falls into neither of these categories because it is an app that provides social good.

The concept is simple. When a visually impaired user requires help with a task they fire up the app which connects them with one of over half a million sighted volunteers.

Sighted volunteers provide simple help such as reading the best before dates on food packaging or saying what colour a piece of clothing is.

For a long time the app has only been available for Apple products but today they launched Be My Eyes for Android. This is is a very positive step for them because when you look behind Apple's hype you discover that Android has a 87% market share compared to iOS's 13% share. That means there are six and a third times more users that this app can now help.

As a volunteer I found the experience rewarding. I sit "chained" to my computer coding for most of the day with little social interaction so the "doo doo doo" ringing of the app and the discussion with the other provides a bit of a break for me. It even prompts me to step away from my screens and take a much needed short walk.

There is a danger that volunteers would feel compelled to answer every request they receive (even if they are in a less than idea situation to do so). This would become draining for the volunteer and I suspect that would result in many of the essential volunteers withdrawing their support. I suppose this would also make visually impaired users less likely to use the app if they feel they are being a burden. The app elegantly avoids this problem by polling a few volunteers at once and moving to others in turn. If a volunteer is busy or simply does not feel like helping then it is no big deal because the app simply moves on to request help from the next volunteer.

As humans we all feel a need to make a difference (or at least I hope we do). Be My Eyes offers an easy way for us to help others.

I would be very interested to hear your experience of using the app so please comment below.