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Microsoft released a new app called Seeing AI for the iPhone this week. It’s billed as a “talking camera for the blind,” but it’s also a showcase for the company’s artificial intelligence technologies, bringing together several interesting features in one app.

Seeing AI can read short signs, scan barcodes, describe what’s in a room, identify people, estimate their ages and genders, and guess their moods.

Pretty cool stuff, at least in theory. So how well does it work? We ran Seeing AI through its paces this week on our Geared Up podcast, and came away impressed with its capabilities.

  • The app was very accurate in assessing our genders and whether we were happy, angry or neutral in our expressions.
  • It wasn’t always precisely on the mark with our ages — sorry, but Geared Up co-host Andru Edwards is 36 years old, not 41— but it was in the ballpark.
  • The barcode scanner worked quickly and accurately, as did the text-recognition feature.
  • The “scene” feature, while still in beta, was especially good — recognizing, for example, that there was a person sitting at a table using a laptop.
  • Microsoft plans to add features in the future including the ability to recognize currency denominations.

Watch our hands-on preview of the Seeing AI app above, and listen to this week’s full episode of Geared Up below, starting with a recap and review of Amazon Prime Day. Download the MP3 here, and follow Geared Up via AppleRSSYouTubeFacebook or Google Play Music.

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