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04 June 2024

#WeArePlay | How Zülal is using AI to help people with low vision

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Posted by Leticia Lago – Developer Marketing

Born in Istanbul, Türkiye with limited sight, Zülal has been a power-user of visual assistive technologies since the age of 4. When she lost her sight completely at 10 years old, she found herself reliant on technology to help her see and experience the world around her.

Today, Zülal is the founder of FYE, her solution to the issues she found with other visual assistive technologies. The app empowers people with low vision to be inspired by the world around them. Employing a team of 4, she heads up technological development and user experience for the app.

Zülal shared her story in our latest film for #WeArePlay, which celebrates people around the world building apps and games. She shared her journey from uploading pictures of her parents to a computer to get descriptions of them as a child, to developing her own visual assistive app. Find out what’s next for Zülal and how she is using AI to help people like herself.

Tell us more about the inspiration behind FYE.

Today, there are around 330 million people with severe to moderate visual impairment. Visual assistive technology is life-changing for these people, giving them back a sense of independence and a connection to the world around them. I’m a poet and composer, and in order to create I needed this tech so that I could see and describe the world around me. Before developing FYE, the visual assistive technology I was relying on was falling short. I wanted to take back control. I didn’t want to sit back, wait and see what technology could do for me - I wanted to harness its power. So I did.

Why was it important for you to build FYE?

I never wanted to be limited by having low vision. I’ve always thought, how can I make this better? How can I make my life better? I want to do everything, because I can. I really believe that there’s nothing I can’t do. There’s nothing WE can’t do. Having a founder like me lead the way in visual assistive technology illustrates just that. We’re taking back control of how we experience the world around us.

What’s different about FYE?

With our app, I believe our audience can really see the world again. It uses a combination of AI and human input to describe the world around them to our users. It incorporates an AI model trained on a dataset of over 15 million data points, so it really encompasses all the varying factors that make up the world of everyday visual experiences. The aim was to have descriptions as vivid as if I was describing my surroundings myself. It’s the small details that make a big difference.

What’s next for your app?

We already have personalized AI outputs so the user can create different AI assistants to suit different situations. You can use it to work across the internet as you’re browsing or shopping. I use it a lot for cooking - where the AI can adapt and learn to suit any situation. We are also collaborating with places where people with low vision might struggle, like the metro and the airport. We’ve built in AI outputs in collaboration with these spaces so that anyone using our app will be able to navigate those spaces with confidence. I’m currently working on evolving From Your Eyes as an organization, reimagining the app as one element of the organization under the new name FYE. Next, we’re exploring integrations with smart glasses and watches to bring our app to wearables.

Discover more #WeArePlay stories and share your favorites.

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