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Google’s Lookout app uses AR to help the visually impaired navigate

Finally, a use for AR that isn’t bloody Pokémon.

google lookout uses ar to identify all sorts of things
Image: Google

Augmented Reality (AR) apps are everywhere nowadays, but most of the well-known apps have been leveraging the technology for entertainment. Google has been working on an AR app called Lookout to help the visually impaired see, which is a pretty nifty use of the tech. It’s now available on the Google Play Store for Pixel device owners.

It works by the user waving their phone’s camera around, and the app then identifies things it recognizes with both an AR subtitle and spoken feedback. It’s built on the same tech that powers Google Lens, and it’s pretty impressive.

I installed the app earlier today and started wandering around my apartment. It identified things like my keyboard or my phone quickly, although it misidentified my partner as simply “clothes,” an unfortunate tag that I’m sure Google will improve upon.

google lookout ar app identifying a keyboard and a mobile phone

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

The Lookout app has several modes for different situations. Explore is meant for new spaces, Shopping reads things like barcodes, and Quick read helps by reading out labels, signs or other useful written words. The Camera view gives live recognition of items as you move your phone around.

Google says it designed Lookout to work in places where the visually impaired might otherwise need to ask for help, such as daily routines such as cooking, cleaning or shopping, learning about new spaces for the first time, something that the visually impaired often avoid as it reduces their sense of safety, and reading documents or other texts.

Lookout is available in the Play Store for U.S. Pixel, Pixel 2, or Pixel 3 phones running Android 8.0 Oreo and above.

Have you tried Google Lookout? If so, how did you like it? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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