Somewhere in a dimly-lit apartment in Manhattan, lives a guy called Don. Like many, Don recently bought an Amazon Firestick so he can binge-watch Mr Robot or another rainy day box set. Streaming services are really accessible these days. Simply plug in some relatively cheap hardware, hook into a network, sign up to a content provider like Netflix and the golden age of T.V. is yours to get lost in. But not for Don…
See the thing is, Don’s partially sighted and finds it near impossible to read high contrast text on screen, let alone the 8pt white labels for the multiple ports on the back of his TV. The other day Don gave me a call. No ordinary call mind you. A call through Be My Eyes.
You could say Be My Eyes taps into an Internet of People. A community signed up and ready to offer a few spare minutes of downtime to walk someone with a visual impairment through anything that their hindered vision is struggling with.
My call with Don lasted for about 10 minutes, though I initially thought it was going to be much shorter. His room was so dimly lit the video feed was way too dark and noisy for me to see anything useful. But then I noticed a flashlight icon at the top right of my screen. I thought I knew what it would offer up, but until I touched it, couldn’t quite believe that it would be as simple and helpful as one would hope. So with Don’s flashlight enabled, we plugged in his Firestick, found the right video input onscreen and hooked into his network. He was super happy.
Clearly this wasn’t Don’s first Be My Eyes call as he closed our call saying, “Thanks. You guys who take these calls are lifesavers”. And it won’t be my last Be My Eyes call either. For the first time in ages I felt exhilirated by an open internet. An experience not about spending or making money, but one about feeling connected to another person and feeling genuinely helpful. I for one can’t wait to see more platforms like this build empathy, connected communities and the opportunity for everyone to watch all 9 seasons of Seinfeld endlessly on loop.
Good job Be My Eyes!
P.s. If you haven’t already, go download it and get global