Whenever I think about this service, this song appears. So hey, why not?
So there’s a new iPhone app that’s just out and seems pretty cool. They should have called it Echosensible…because it’s EchoSense without all the bullshit. It’s called Be My Eyes. Every time I hear the name, I chuckle. Years ago, I was apartment hunting, and I said I needed a friend to come along so they could be eyeballs for me. My friend joked that they should just put their eyes in a box and I could bring them with me and wave the box around the apartment.
It’s basically what it sounds like. You video link up to someone who can see and hear you, ask a question, such as “what does this coupon say?” or “What’s the expiry date on my milk?” or maybe “What’s the text code on this here bus stop?” And if you point your phone the right way, they can tell you what you need to know. The app is free, and all the helpers are volunteers. I hope that it can be sustainable this way. I wouldn’t mind paying a small subscription fee, even if it just funded the cost of all that video stuff. If they had to move to paying people to be available too, I wouldn’t mind paying for that too as part of a subscription. There are a lot of us. It probably wouldn’t cost a ton.
This is exactly what I said would make EchoSense workable. It’s a free or, if they change their mind, inexpensive, app that’s already on a device we use, and the network is much bigger than a few friends and family. The helpers, also, are not tied to their computers, viewing the output on their own smartphones. Perfect!
I tried it yesterday, and on the second shot, it was pretty incredible. I don’t know what happened the first time, but I was stuck on perpetual hold for about 15 minutes. It rang and rang as if someone was going to join but nothing happened. But the second time, I was connected to a nice lady in about a minute.
It felt a little awkward, suddenly talking to a stranger, parading her around my house trying to find the best lighting to ask her what a coupon said. I felt like I should make small talk or something, not use her like Siri, but at the same time I didn’t want to waste too much of her time.
She was super patient, telling me to move my phone up, now down a little, there, I can read it. and within a few seconds, I had my question answered. Awesome! Super handy!
There aren’t a ton of times I can think of using it yet, but maybe it’s because I’ve never had it available before. I could see it taking some skill to be super efficient with it, but at least there’s a person live, telling you how to fine-tune your aim, etc.
So, I have yet another tool in my toolbox. Of course, like anything else, it has its limitations, like you never know when the next person is available, every person will have different abilities and willingness, you don’t want to show them sensitive or confidential things, and I have no idea how much data it consumes if you use it when you’re out on 3G. I don’t know if it should be used for the complex tasks they reference, like telling a person when it’s safe to cross the street, But man, I could see this coming in handy for sure.
A couple of people I know have signed up to help. I wonder if one of these days I’ll get one of them. That would be neat and funny.
It looks like they’re taking donations. I’ll probably slip them a few bucks. I hope this app has long-term success. It definitely has potential.