Author: Julián Mª Morejón Carmona
Date: February 2021
Lookout is an application to facilitate accessibility developed by Google together with members of the community made up of people with vision problems, available in the Google Play Store, compatible with Android devices with version 6.0 or higher and that have a minimum of 2 Gb of RAM.
This application allows you to recognize objects in the environment thanks to the use of the device's camera, in a way that will help the user to significantly improve their quality of life and to cope with them.
In this review we will do a Lookout analysis focused on Android mobile devices with version 9, because there is no version for IOs.
Next, we analyze how the application interacts with the user and the user with it. We will start by analyzing the interface.
When it opens, a window will be displayed with the content that the camera is capturing at that moment and at the bottom we will have a series of options to choose from to scan the environment we want.
In total, we have 5 possible options or modes, which would be:
- Fast reading mode: allows you to read a text very quickly and reproduce it through voice synthesis.
- Explore mode: provides information about all objects around the person.
- Food Label Mode: designed to identify food through its labeling, it also allows barcode scanning.
- Document Scan Mode: through a photo to a document, the application can read the text found in it and reproduce it through voice synthesis or allow the user to enlarge it.
- Currency Mode: Identifies US dollar bills accurately, as long as they are in acceptable condition
Access to the settings is somewhat complex, since it is found in the account menu located in the app, where we will find the configuration section, where we can make some basic adjustments in the application, although interesting.
The interface, therefore, is quite minimalist, with all the functionalities in the main interface facilitating access to them, in an agile way and without much complication except for accessing the configuration that can be somewhat more complex.
This application incorporates some basic native options for specific accessibility, adding even more utility for people with visual disabilities, since, for example, it allows you to configure the synthesis of voice output with some very interesting settings such as the playback speed and the tone of voice, being these very interesting, especially for people with visual disabilities and who also have some type of hearing impairment, expanding the accessibility of the app. The main objective of the app is to provide accessibility to people with vision problems, so we can also say that the app as a whole is an accessibility option, since it allows with very good results to recognize the elements of the environment and refer to them by voice For the user, it is added to this, that it is compatible with the TalkBack screen reader to move through the app and its modes, providing exquisite accessibility to the target group of the app, such as people with visual disabilities.
Next, we proceed to the accessibility analysis according to different groups of people with disabilities.
Visually impaired people
As we have commented previously, the app itself constitutes an accessibility option for the people of this group, we can affirm that its function is very careful and it fulfills its objective in an outstanding way, since the recognition by camera of the different modes is very good except in some specific cases, also by having it correctly labeled for screen readers such as Talkback, the features of the app that do not reproduce voice synthesis, grant complete accessibility to the people of this group.
People with hearing difficulties
The application presents some native option for people with mild hearing difficulties, such as the speed and tone of the voice of the synthesis of the app, which can help users of the group, but its use for people with a total hearing disability, You could activate the vibration option in the app to confirm actions, this coupled with the fact that it also shows on the screen what the camera recognizes, they make it possible for them to use it without problems, although the app is not intended for this group, although the experience may not be as satisfactory as in the case of people with vision difficulties.
People with physical difficulties
Although the application is not focused on this group, it could be used with the various necessary adaptations, if the disability requires it, such as those that affect the motor skills of the upper extremities. This part of the group could use it through devices that allow holding the device to focus on what the user wants the app to recognize, it would be somewhat more complex to handle the app but it would be functional for this part of the group, who could use the app in a way acceptable.
Next, we analyze the degree of user satisfaction when using the application. In addition, to study the utility provided by the app.
It is important to highlight how successful the application is when it comes to meeting the objectives it sets, providing a very successful functionality and fulfilling its objective in a satisfactory way. The development of it together with a team of people with vision difficulties makes the app feel polished, with a very simple and easy-to-use interface, together with the correct operation with screen readers such as Talkback, they make it an app in If using it is a remarkable experience, it is also important to mention that everything that it recognizes is reproduced by voice synthesis and on the screen, also serving those with hearing disabilities and mild vision difficulties.
Finally, comment that the application is quite attractive and well developed, making its use light and interesting.
Lookout is a very complete application, with a remarkable design and development, in which the work behind it can be appreciated from the first use, the recognition functions although there are not many, they are essential to help people visually impaired in their day-to-day and they are more than compliant, although sometimes they do not recognize what they focus on, which makes it possible to affirm that they still need some optimization or improvement of the app's functionalities, although these situations are not very common, Well, it included support to recognize more bills other than dollars, although the app is constantly updated and they plan to include support for euros, for example in the future, since dollars greatly limits the number of users who can use that recognition.
Exquisite functionality: Remarkable development of the app, fulfilling what it promises quickly, coupled with a very easy-to-use interface and designed to give the greatest possible accessibility.
Great help: The use of the app by people with visual disabilities, helps them widely in their daily tasks, being a necessary application for the group.
Include more types of recognition and polishing than the existing ones: although it contains the basic recognition options for the day-to-day, more options may be needed, which further improve people's accessibility, so adding more functionalities would be very interesting. Also, improve or correct small bugs that rarely occur when we perform recognition of existing functionalities.
Compatibility with IOs: many disabled users use IOs because it is considered an operating system that provides many accessibility options, together with the large number of users in the IOs community, they make the app inaccessible to many interested parties, so a version for IOs, would give a good boost to the community of the app, in addition to expanding the range of possible users of it.
Improve banknote recognition: currently it only recognizes dollar banknotes, it would be vital to add support for more types of coins, in addition to improving their recognition, since banknote reading is the functionality that causes the most problems.