Review by Jerry Berrier
Why would a person who is totally blind want to take pictures? A year ago, my response would have gone something like this: “Photography has no place in my life. I wouldn’t know if the camera was focused, too close, too far away, too much light, not enough light… Besides, why would I want to take pictures when I cannot see them? Let sighted people worry about photos. I’ll just listen to the thousand words it takes to equal the value of one picture.”
Well, I now view this topic through a different lens, so to speak. Thanks to a free iOS app called TapTapSee, pictures can really say something meaningful to those of us who are blind. With an iPhone or iPad with Voiceover turned on and TapTapSee running, you simply point the camera on the back of the iDevice toward the object of interest, wait for the focus indicator to stop beeping, and double-tap the “take picture” button. Within seconds, TapTapSee attempts to identify the object and tells you what it is. Through trial and error, you learn how close you should be to an object to get the best picture. I find that I sometimes have to take several pictures before I get one TapTapSee can fully identify, but that’s okay. I am not wasting film, because the photos are digital. The app retains the last three photos taken and then overwrites them when you take new ones. You can choose to save a photo or share it via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook straight from TapTapSee.
Initially, I was so fascinated with TapTapSee that I went around the house taking pictures of everything I could think of. I put a can from the cupboard on the counter and TapTapSee told me it was Campbell’s Tomato Soup. I stood behind our car and took a picture, and TapTapSee said “White Honda Accord.” I even took a picture of our cat, and it said “black and white cat.”
I posted some of my pictures on Facebook and got immediate feedback from sighted friends. I learned that a correct identification by TapTapSee does not always mean the picture was a good one. One comment said, “It’s a good picture of your cat, but it’s a much better picture of the mesh table the cat is lying on, and your leg and foot underneath the table.”
TapTapSee was specifically designed to help folks who are blind identify objects. TapTapSee will recognize paper money, although there are other apps more suited to that task such as the Looktel Money Reader. It will also read enough text on a sheet of paper for you to identify the document. Want to know what kind of cereal is in the box before you open it? Just take a picture of it with TapTapSee. The possibilities are endless.
TapTapSee can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store, and yes, it really is free of charge.