A Work in Progress: High School Technology Club Invents New App for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

by Jaime Rodriguez

Students from the Machine-Learning Club at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia have developed an innovative new app to benefit people who are blind and visually impaired. Dubbed “Atheia,” the app uses facial recognition and computer vision software to detect and describe people and objects in a person’s environment. It can answer open-ended questions regarding the size and shape of the objects as well. The app’s built-in text reader also scans text on objects and can read it aloud to the user. In addition, Atheia can tell the user where an object is located and even where it was encountered last. The app even sports a sentry mode capable of recording live video and text updates to the user’s designated emergency contact with their location. The students responsible for the development of this app are seniors Eugene Choi, Raffu Khondaker, Irfan Nafi, and Pranav Ravella, who began developing “Atheia” in 2019 when they recognized a need for accessible technology for people with low or no vision, as well as the fact that computer identification software had been developed to high accuracy. Atheia is now in the testing stages at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland. Read more about the new app from IEEE Spectrum: High School Students Built This iPhone App for the Visually Impaired.