By Ahtsham Ijaz Bhalli
Photo: Software engineer Saqib Sheikh with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft developer conference
“As engineers we are always standing on the shoulders of giants and building on top of what went before. For me it’s about taking that far-off dream and building it one step at a time”, Saqib Sheikh said.
Saqib Sheikh is a software developer from London, United Kingdom currently working for Microsoft. He lost his sight when he was 7 years old. Instead of getting disappointed life he started learning language of computers. Like millions of other blind people around the world, he also thought of being able to lead normal life but the difference is that millions of other only thought it and Saqib actually did it. In 2016 he created an application named as, the Seeing AI, which is a voice assisted application and assists visually impaired people.
The 36 years old software engineer said that, “I have been working on the application for the past three years in the hope that it will improve the lives of people like me. One of the things that I have always dreamt of since my college days was this idea of something that could tell you at any moment what’s going on around you.” The image analysis processing, artificial intelligence and cognitive computing in the application that Saqib uses allows him to see the world around him without physical eyes that was only possible in fictions before. The Seeing AI is not the first application developed by him, but before that he had also took part in the development of softwares such as, MSN, Bing, Edge and various other mobile apps.
The application not only runs on smart phones but Pivothead sunglasses can also be used so that a person can also be hands free. These glasses have camera in it so that person can take photos and videos and in this way he can recognizes objects. This extraordinary application has lot of functions in it. This application can read texts like menu. It can recognize currency, it can describe age and gender of person near you. It can tell you what is going on around you and it makes you alert. With the help of this application Saqib and many other persons like him who are unable to see can travel around the world alone and independently.
Currently this application is working in nearly 9 countries only, on iOS platform and in English language. If i say that the Seeing AI has great scope then it is not wrong. Microsoft arranged a developer conference in 2016 in which they invited Mr Saqib Sheikh to appreciate his efforts and released a video about this special application.
“It is an honor to share a stage with Saqib today. He took his passion and empathy to change the world. He is here to inspire and teach about these applications. Microsoft build is all about taking the dreams we have to reality”, said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during the release of the video.
He further said, “Now is the time for greater coordination and collaboration on Seeing AI,” says Nadella. He lauded what Saqib has done with AI. “This approach is a start, but we can go further,” he said.
At the end i would like to say that talent has no limits and if anyone has passion and aim to do something he can do it even if he is a disable like Saqib. It is a well known phrase that, “God helps those who help themselves”.