(Pocket-lint) - In 2019, Google released Lookout, an app designed to use artificial intelligence to scan the surrounding world and help blind or visually impaired people negotiate their surroundings. The idea being to give those people more independence.
Now that app has been updated with more features to make it even more useful. One such feature gives the app the ability to read grocery labels and signs to allow the visually impaired to more easily identify foodstuffs.
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Another improvement is the app will now work on any Android device with at least 2GB of RAM running Android 6.0 or above. When it first launched, Lookout was only available to Google Pixel users and only in the US. Now it's more widely available, it should be more useful to more people.
Lookout also now has a more accessible design thanks to better compatibility with TalkBack, Android's screen reader. Using that system, the app can identify food labels and then read them out loud for the user.
Similarly, there's a document scanning mode which captures images of text and then reads them to the user with very little fuss. The app can even handle simple things like the document being upside down.
Lookout also has other features that include "Explore mode" which allows users to point their phone about and discover what's in the surrounding environment. This is still in beta though as is said to be less accurate than some of the other modes.
It's also worth noting that the food label mode requires the app to download extra data to help improve its accuracy and get faster results for the user. This is a 250MB download and can take five minutes to update.
Google also notes that the app works best when pointed in the right direction. The suggestion here is to pop your phone in your shirt pocket or on a lanyard around your neck if you're not able to easily point it at things.
Find out more about Lookout and download it here.