Microsoft’s Seeing AI app can scan the boxes of Advil, Theraflu and more to read out details

Microsoft has been gradually updating its Seeing AI app since its launch in 2017, expanding language support and general functionality over the years. Today, the company is announcing a new feature that would let Seeing AI read out detailed information when users scan the barcodes of products by healthcare company Haleon. The feature is rolling out today for US and UK users on the free app, which is only available on iOS. The company says an Android version will be available “in the future.”

In a press release, Microsoft and Haleon said “With today’s launch in honor of World Sight Day, people can now hear packaging information through the Microsoft Seeing AI app by scanning the barcode of Haleon products.” Users who are blind, have trouble reading or have low literacy can use the app to scan more than 1,500 Haleon products like Emergen-C, Sensodyne, Centrum and more, and their device will read out product information, instructions, ingredients “and other crucial details.” 

The press release also noted that “The Seeing AI collaboration with Microsoft is one of Haleon’s first new initiatives to champion health inclusivity.” We may be seeing more from the healthcare company in future, but for now, it’s nice to see that people with visual impairments or low literacy can more easily and independently learn about the drugs they are considering or consuming. That is, at least, if they use iOS. 

Update (on Oct 13th 2022 at 12:38pm ET): Microsoft reached out after this article was published to say that due to some last-minute changes, not all Haleon products will be able to be scanned at launch, including Advil, Excedrin and Theraflu. This article and its headline previously referred to those products and has since been edited to reflect products that will be supported.

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Cherlynn Low