google has revealed an upcoming app designed to help blind or visually impaired people become more independent by giving spoken notifications as they encounter objects, text and people around them. dubbed lookout, it was announced during the I/O developer conference this week.

google announces lookout app helping the blind navigate their surroundings

images courtesy of google



google’s lookout offers four modes: home, work & play, scan and experimental (the latter allowing users to test out features being worked on by google). lookout then delivers information relevant to that activity. for example, it can tell them that there’s a ‘couch 3 o’clock’, meaning an object to be aware of is on their right. much like a google search engine, machine learning will increase the relevancy of results as more people use the app.


video by google



google recommends users wear their smartphone as a lanyard around the neck or in a shirt pocket, with the camera pointing away from the body. once a mode is chosen lookout processes information from within the environment such as text from a recipe book, location of a bathroom, an exit sign or a chair. the app then notifies users with minimal interaction, ensuring people stay engaged with their activity.