However, there’s one app, which is one of my favourites while probably being the least used application. It doesn’t technically benefit me at all, but is useful to others, when I use it.
The app in question is “Be My Eyes”. It’s available for Android and iOS, and is very easy to setup. The service is aimed at blind and partially sighted people, a group of people I am (currently) not in.
As a sighted person, I install the app, sign up, set my language and then just leave the application installed. Someone with a vision issue, who needs help from a sighted person, can launch the app and put out the call for assistance.
Within moments, a bunch of phones in the hands of sighted people will get a notification, letting them know someone needs help. Either tap the notification, or ignore/dismiss it, if now is not a good time. There’s plenty of other people who will also get the notification.
That redundancy means the first to answer gets connected, and everyone else gets told they’re no longer needed, stand down. If you get to the notification first, a video call starts with the other party.
At that point you just need to help the other person do whatever it is they need. There’s a quick video explaining how it works on their website, embedded below:
On one occasion I got to the phone quickly and was connected to a person who needed to check their heating / water controls were set correctly.
When the call launched I was presented with a familiar old-school mechanical domestic heating control unit. The caller greeted me and immediately asked if the water was set to come on at the right time. I confirmed the settings were right, they said “Thanks” and the call was over.
Many times since then I’ve seen the notification, but not got to the phone in time, so someone else helped. In fact that’s what happens for me every time I’ve seen the notification.
I’ve been helpful to one guy, on one occasion, via the “Be My Eyes” application, and that’s fine. With more than 10x more volunteers than blind users, the system is working as designed. In the future, maybe I’ll have my phone in-hand when the next call comes in. Maybe not.
I’ve had the app installed for just over three years now, and have actively used it precisely once. So that’s why Be My Eyes is both one of my favourite apps I have installed, and least used, and I love that.