Many students and consumers have been enjoying the information provided from TapTapSee, an app that allows a user to take a photograph with the their phone and receive back a description of what was photographed when they have VoiceOver running on their phone. This might be taking a picture of a can of soup at the grocery store to determine whether it is Tomato or Chicken Noodle, a photo of a shoe to know if it is black or brown, or even a picture of the sky to hear if it is clear blue or cloudy. The challenge for many folks recently is that the company has found they must now switch to a pay for use model rather than the previously free access. The new fees are 100 Picture Pack for $7.99 or a Month of Unlimited Pictures $9.99. The fee for use is set to begin after the user takes 20 pictures; the user will then be prompted to choose a pay plan to continue. This at least allows a person to try to the service for evaluation before being required to pay for use. The benefit received for this premium is quick response time with clear descriptions, even reading text back if the photograph is clear. The link for the TapTapSee site is

For those who prefer to stay on the free model, there is a recently released app called My Smart Eye from StarHub Mobile and the Singapore Association for the Blind. This company uses “micro-volunteering” to recognize the images sent in by users. Rather than paying for image recognition services as the TapTapSee company must do, the MySmartEye app sends the images to volunteers who have downloaded the app and signed in via their Facebook account and who then provide a description of the photograph. At the present time, there is a significant delay in hearing the response. If the user is lucky enough to take the picture when a volunteer is describing the picture it could happen very quickly, but if not, you may have already left the store where you took the picture of a product to find out what it was before you receive the description. Also, the volunteer receives a picture which is quite blurry and may not be able to provide as detailed or accurate of a description as those delivered by TapTapSee. Hopefully the volunteer pool will increase the response time will be more rapid. The link for the MySmartEye is

Though the monthly subscription may be expensive, especially for students, for the integrity and consistency of TapTapSee, the 100 Picture Pack seems a reasonable option for those who can use it for specific purposes and for times when other ways of soliciting information are not available. It is imported for users to remember that the information they photograph may be made public in some way, such as by having the photograph described by another person if the image matching software does not identify the image. So, making sure to not photograph personally identifiable information, such as a Social Security Card or credit card numbers is a necessity for keeping that information secure.