Answer Services

VizWiz Social combines automatic and human-powered services to answer visual questions for users with visual impairments.

VizWiz Social is an iPhone app that allows blind users to receive quick answers to questions about their surroundings. A user takes a picture and records a question on their mobile phone, then sends their question to anonymous workers, object recognition software, Twitter, or an email contact. Once an answer is received from any of those services, it is sent back to the users' phone. Each answering service provides a unique benefit, and would be appropriate for different types of questions.

Web Workers

VizWiz will recruit people from the web to answer your questions. Workers may come from our pool of volunteers or from Amazon's Mechanical Turk marketplace.

The major benefits of using web workers are the quick speed of answers and the fact that you are unlikely to know the people answering your questions. VizWiz will recruit multiple answers from different web workers to help you better guage the reliability of answers retrieved in this way.

To learn more about Mechanical Turk, visit

IQ Engines

IQ Engines

IQ Engines is an image recognition platform that can be used to identify objects in photographs. When an image is sent in, the IQ Engines software will attempt to label the primary item in the image using computer vision techniques. If it is unable to recognize the image using computer vision, a group of human workers completes the process.

The major benefit of using object recognition software is that you will receive a result extremely quickly if only trying to identify a single object.

To learn more about IQ Engines, visit



Your questions can also be sent to a specific contact from your email address book. Your chosen contact will receive an email directing them to a response page that allows them to answer your question.

The major benefit of sending an email is the ability to contact a specific person who you know.



Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to broadcast 140-character status messages in realtime to their followers. Your followers are other Twitter users who have chosen to subscribe to your status updates. When you send a question to Twitter, these followers can go to a response page that allows them to answer your question.

The major benefits of using Twitter are that your followers will likely be people who know you or have some interest in your account, and that there is the potential to reach a large audience of question-answerers based on how many people follow you.

To learn more about Twitter, visit

VizWiz was developed by the ROC HCI Group at the University of Rochester.
VizWiz is supported in part by research funding from the National Science Foundation Grant #IIS-1049080 and #IIS-1110651 and by Google. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funding institutions.