Inspiration

As a health-focused hackathon, we knew we wanted to make something that can help people in their everyday lives. After a brainstorming session that lasted most of Saturday night we concluded that an affliction suffered by many that has potential for innovation is by those who are visually impaired. With today's technology, its needless to see people struggling to do something as essential as reading a menu at a restaurant. This app aims to alleviate that problem by leveraging the clarity of your mobile device's camera and the resourcefulness of Google Vision API to bring into focus the things these people need to see.

What it does

The app starts on a page prompting you to either open your camera and submit a picture, or to choose a picture from your camera roll. In either case, the image chosen is submitted to our backend which facilitates making the API calls and formatting the returned data before sending it back to the app. Once the response is received, we break out the results page into 3 tabs. The first time is dedicated to displaying any text detected in the image. This is the main goal of the project and it is remarkably efficient, capturing words written sideways in a very light font from a great distance away. The next tab displays the captured image back to the user with zoom controls for further inspection, if needed. And the last tab shows what we think the image actually is. This tab is useful for when someone with a serious visual impairment isn't necessarily trying to read something, but rather determine what scene he or she is looking at. And though it sometimes can be vague, it tends to be fairly accurate in this regard as well. On both the text and description tabs there is a microphone which uses JavaScripts built-in speech synthesizer to read out the text in the event that our user is too visually impaired to read the words returned. Once this process is complete to the user's satisfaction, he or she can start over again using the home button and submit a whole new photo.

How we built it

We knew we were accustomed to the MEAN stack so we wanted to find something that could fit that pattern, but we also wanted a challenge. Because of this we went with ionic for the front end app framework and had to work out all of the quirks of using that framework compared to our more familiar framework of plain Angular. The backend utilizes swagger codegen to help abstract away HTTP calls to the backend into simple to use functions that act as remote procedure calls from the perspective of the front end. All the stylings were done using Sass, and we had hoped we would have had time to add a functionality to switch the color scheme incase some of our users are color blind, however we did not get time to do this.

Challenges we ran into

Ionic's testing tools are fantastic, however difficult to connect to on the CIC WiFi because it does not allow inter-device communication via the WiFi network. This became a challenge because it meant the only way to test the app was to submit a production build which meant every coding iteration from each user would take up to 5 minutes to complete. Thankfully, Erin used his phone as a WiFi hotspot and that allowed us to connect to each other and sped up the development process multiple times over.

What's next for Resight

Stability fixes would be very nice, and also looking more into the color-blind friendly mode would be the next items for us. In addition the Google Vision API returns more data than this, and one idea we were throwing around is returning a breakdown of the composition of colors in the submitted image, again to support our color blind users.

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