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Mobile Apps

Lend your eyes to the blind with Be My Eyes app

This ingenious matchmaking service pairs you with sight-impaired people who need a little help.

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Be My Eyes

Want to do a good deed? A really good deed? Pull out your smartphone and spend a few minutes helping a blind person.

The brainchild of Hans Jørgen Wiberg, Be My Eyes is an iPhone app (coming soon for Android) that lets you lend your eyesight to someone who needs a little assistance.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Think of it as FaceTime meets Chatroulette, but with a noble purpose. For the person who's sight-impaired, it offers the chance to get virtually unlimited help as often as needed (by way of the iOS feature VoiceOver), without overwhelming the usual network of friends, family members and neighbors.

For the sighted person who has a few minutes to spare, it offers simple, good-for-the-soul volunteer work that can be done just about anywhere.

Once you've registered within the app (via Facebook or an e-mail address) and agreed to notifications and microphone/camera use (though your video feed is not shared), you're placed into a queue. At some point your phone will ring and you'll have the option of being connected to a blind user.

You can also decline the call if it's not a convenient time, or just log out of the app altogether. (It would be nice if you could set specific times of day -- or night -- that you don't want calls, but for now there's no such feature.)

Also, if you speak languages other than English, you can add them in the settings to get paired with a more international set of users. And if you need extra incentive, Be My Eyes relies on a point system that encourages you to "level up." An Uber-like rating system allows blind users to review the service and report any negative experiences.

The app is free for now (with a subscription model planned for later this year to help sustain operation), and Android users can sign up to be notified when it's available for that platform.