Haleon and Microsoft use AI to enhance health product accessibility for people who are blind or partially sighted

Haleon, a global leader in consumer health, and Microsoft Corp. have announced a new collaboration to make everyday health more accessible for people who are blind, have low vision or have difficulty reading product labels due to low literacy. Together, the companies are expanding functionality in the Microsoft Seeing AI app to provide consumers with more detailed labelling information for over 1,500 Haleon products across the U.S. and U.K. Seeing AI is a free mobile app designed to help people who have trouble seeing by narrating the world around them.

With today’s launch on World Sight Day, people will hear packaging information through Seeing AI by scanning the barcode of Haleon products. This will provide an audio read-out of important information, such as product name, ingredients and usage instructions. Through Seeing AI’s enhanced functionality, Haleon will help empower people to care for their own health independently by listening to label information narrated through the Seeing AI application.

Haleon’s inaugural Health Inclusivity Index, which sets a new global standard for measuring health inclusivity, makes clear that to improve health inclusivity, individuals and communities need to be provided with the power and the tools to truly take their health into their own hands. Haleon, driven by its purpose to deliver better everyday health with humanity, is committed to helping make healthcare more achievable, inclusive and sustainable. The Seeing AI collaboration with Microsoft is one of Haleon’s first new initiatives to champion health inclusivity. The Microsoft Seeing AI app can be a benefit to:

  • The 1 million Americans who live with blindness (CDC, “Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders, https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm)
  • The 12 million U.S. adults over the age of 40 who are blind or have low vision (CDC, “Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders, https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm)

The Seeing AI app was developed by a team of Microsoft engineers spearheaded by project lead and engineering manager Saqib Shaikh, who lost his sight at the age of seven and was driven to develop the app by his passion for using technology to improve people’s lives.

Saqib Shaikh, engineering manager at Microsoft, said: “I’m really excited to see the launch of this enhanced product recognition functionality, developed in collaboration with Haleon. Seeing AI’s intelligent barcode scanner plays audio cues to help you find the barcode, and now the information displayed for Haleon products is coming straight from the manufacturer, providing richer information including usage instructions and ingredients. This can be invaluable for someone who cannot read the label, leading to greater independence.”

Katie Williams, U.S. chief marketing officer at Haleon said, “We believe everyone should have access to self-care products, services and the information needed to make informed, proactive choices about their health needs. Haleon initiated this collaboration with Microsoft via its Seeing AI app to make consumer health more accessible, achievable and inclusive. We are proud to help make better everyday health more in reach for the blind and those with low vision.”

The Seeing AI app is free to download from the Apple App Store and will be available on Android in the future. To use Seeing AI on Haleon’s products, users should hold their phone camera over the packaging barcode. The app will read out the product name and all text on the package. Users can skip ahead or move back to the relevant section they want to listen to, for example, which flavor or how to use the product. The Haleon barcode functionality will launch today in the U.S. and U.K. first, with plans to expand globally and add additional languages in the future.

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