Interview with the Team at Envision

Man using Envision glasses to read a printed document

This week, V I Labs caught up with the Envision team, creators of the Envision AI app and Envision Glasses. Learn about their newest addition, Ask Envision, providing intuitive AI support accessible via both the app and Envision glasses.

Firstly, what is Envision, and where did the idea come from?

Envision began in 2018 with a clear purpose: to harness the power of technology to make everyday life more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The inspiration sparked from observing the challenges faced by blind students in a school in India, who expressed one simple wish: ‘to be independent’. By tapping into the potential of AI and developing software that could interpret visual information into audible descriptions, Envision aimed to bridge a significant gap in accessibility. Envision’s technology converts visual data into audible information, enabling users to read text, recognize faces, understand their surroundings and more.

Tell us a bit about the new Ask Envision feature and how it works for both the app and glasses.

The latest feature, Ask Envision, marks a significant advancement in the Envision app and glasses. This feature enables users to interact with their environment intuitively and conversationally. Whether it’s identifying objects, reading text aloud, or navigating unfamiliar spaces, Ask Envision uses AI to provide immediate, audible feedback. On the app, users can scan documents or their surroundings to receive detailed descriptions. With the glasses, this interaction becomes even more seamless, allowing for hands-free operation and real-time information about the visual world.

Tell us a bit about the new Ask Envision feature and how it works for both the app and glasses.

The new Ask Envision feature significantly enhances the functionality of the glasses by enabling users to ask questions about their environment on the text they are reading. This means being able to scan a menu, for instance, and ask for vegetarian options without manually searching the text. On the Envision app, users can ask questions about scanned documents or their surroundings, and the app provides detailed audible responses. This AI assistant represents a leap towards more interactive and intuitive use of AI in everyday tasks for people with visual impairments.

Are there issues that AI can’t currently solve, that you think will be overcome in the future?

While AI has made impressive strides in accessibility, there are still challenges it faces, such as fully understanding context, complex visual scenes, and nuanced human emotions. With the rapid progress in open-source AI and Envision’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, a future where AI can offer even more nuanced assistance is closer than ever.

What’s next for Envision?

The future of Envision involves expanding its capabilities and exploring new avenues for integrating AI into the lives of the blind and low-vision community and beyond. Envision’s AI will be available on more platforms, including desktops and web browsers, thus making it more ubiquitous. Envision is making its technology more conversational, allowing for more natural interactions and personalization. Envision aims to continue innovating to remain at the forefront of accessible tech.

Why is there now a subscription for updates, will this model evolve in the future?

The introduction of a subscription model for updates is aimed at sustaining the development and enhancement of Envision’s features. This model supports continuous investment in research and development, ensuring that Envision can keep offering cutting-edge solutions. Home and read edition users will receive free feature updates for the first year but will need to be subscribed to a software updates pass to continue benefiting from the latest features. If users choose to not subscribe to this pass, they will continue to receive operational and service updates.

Where can people learn more?

People interested in learning more about Envision and its offerings can visit the website at https://www.letsenvision.com and follow us at @letsenvision on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, and most recently, Mastodon.

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