Was I wrong to write off PiccyBot? New AI app now describes video

image of a bot

By David Redmond

Last night I had a problem. I had googled how to do something with a smart home app and the only result available to me was a screen recording with no VoiceOver or description.

Just hours before on Talking Technology, I had said that I didn’t see much use for PiccyBot, but when faced with an inaccessible video I was going to need to reconsider.

I’ve got loads of AI apps on my phone, from Be My AI to seeing AI, Aira Access AI to Envision AI. But just one app could describe video. That app was PiccyBot.

What Is PiccyBot

PiccyBot is an app created by a small company called Sparkling Apps based out of India. It’s not a million miles away from Be My AI or Envision, except it has two major differences.

Firstly, PiccyBot has a personality. The free version is extremely posh. As an example, when I took a selfie and asked it to describe, the app was more interested in the modern aesthetics of the ceiling than me.

You can subscribe to a pro version to get extra voices, and each voice has a different personality.

The voices available with the pro version are…

The voices available with the pro version are…

  1. Alloy: Expressive
  2. Echo: Happy
  3. Fable: Enthusiastic (This is the free voice)
  4. Onyx: Serious
  5. Nova: Fashionable
  6. Schimmer: Carving

Those who pay for the app can also disable the personalities if they wish.

Pro users can choose the AI model they want so if you’re a fan of the descriptions from Be My AI, you might choose to use the GPT 4o option. Different models are stronger at different tasks, so it’s well worth playing around.

The second major feature of note though is something I had originally overlooked. PiccyBot can describe the video. So, is it any good?

PiccyBot video descriptions

The descriptions of videos give you enough context to understand what’s in a video. It’s not exactly a perfect audio description, but it definitely serves its purpose.

The app’s developer has told me that the app is currently limited to the first 30 seconds of a video. He says, however, that this is something that they want to improve.

You can share videos from WhatsApp, messenger or your own library, and the developer also says that they are working on support for Instagram and TikTok.

This will be huge if they pull it off.

Is the app sustainable?

I purchased the app last night for a one-time fee of €22.99. There is also a subscription available for less than €3 a month. Most of the players in this space have millions to spend, but Sparkling apps is a relatively small 4-person team. With such a low price I had to ask the developer how sustainable the app really was.

The response I got was interesting. The developers aren’t ruling out price hikes in the future but say that the app is okay for now. They said,  “ if we happen to have to increase the permanent price then the first users have had an advantage, hopefully by then the app will be popular enough to be worth that price as well.”

It’s a fair point. The app seems to have a strategy of getting to market fast and develop it as it grows. It’s good to know that they are at least considering sustainability though. Hopefully, the app will be getting updates well into the future.

The Future

PiccyBot launched in March and to me it does still feel very much like a work in progress. With that said, the app’s creator has been involved in the blindness space for years originally developing the Talking Goggles app. This history does make me feel that the future is good for PiccyBot, even if it isn’t perfect just yet.

Right now, I’m told that the app has been downloaded 12,000 times. It’s a respectable user base and it definitely will grow. I’m not going to be using PiccyBot every day, but I’m a big believer in expanding the tools in one’s toolbox. Competition is good, and if PiccyBot leads to platforms like TikTok or Instagram becoming more accessible than that’s a win.

Conclusion

I think I might have dismissed PiccyBot too quickly. It’s got a long way to go but it’s definitely carved out its own niche. Will it be able to stay ahead of its well-funded rivals? Time will tell, but I definitely wish them luck.

Stay tuned for our full conversation with The PiccyBot team on the next episode of Talking Technology with V I Labs. Subscribe to your favorite podcast app or on the V I Labs YouTube channel.

Sign Up For Our Technology Newsletter




*By clicking submit you are consenting to receive information from Vision Ireland

Please Subscribe to our Talking Technology Podcast