March 2, 2015 By adminCDS
Why all designers should be using Be My Eyes
I’ve been using the Be My Eyes app since I heard about it a little while ago through Google Newsstand, and thus far I’ve helped around seven visually impaired people to ‘see’ by being their eyes through the phone camera. The basic set up is that if you can see then you download the app and volunteer your eyes, and if you’re visually impaired you download the app and when you need to see, for example to read a label, you make a request to the app. This then puts a call out to the volunteers and the first to answer gets put through as a video call. A simple idea that’s been well executed. It also encourages the volunteer with points for each time you help out, I’m not sure what the points mean, but it’s that strange psychological thing where just earning them is enough.
The interesting thing for me as a designer has been to see the consistently bad designs out there, particularly medicine bottles and other packaging, that are simply not designed for humans. Twice I’ve been asked to help identify different types of medicine from an array of identical looking bottles using tiny font sizes to display critical information about the contents inside.
This is very typical of a lot of packaging, where brand names and logos take precedent over the far more critical information of what’s actually inside. I’ve recently given a couple of lectures on packaging to graphic design students here in Sri Lanka, and it’s a point I’ve been trying to make about how good design is not just nice colours and brand positioning, but actually thinking about the usability and functionality of the product for everyone that might use it. This is something that the excellent Helen Hamlyn centre at the RCA has been researching and putting into practice for years, with programs such as the 24 Hour Design Challenge really putting designers on the spot with how they think about these issues by pairing them with a disabled person who then challenges every idea with the reality of their situation.
This is why I think every designer should download and volunteer for Be My Eyes, not only as it’s a great idea, but also as the exposure to these problems will open our eyes to them and hopefully lead to better designs in the future.