While the effort is in keeping with Haleon’s purpose, it’s not just about doing the right thing but also likely good for business she said. “We wanted to make sure we did anything we could to reduce the barriers to accessing health care with [an app] that already had broad reach with the communities we want to serve.”
The Seeing AI app was developed in 2016 by a team of Microsoft engineers led by Saqib Shaikh, who lost his sight at age 7. He said he got the chance to start the project when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave everyone in the company a week to pursue a project of personal interest. The app is now available in the Apple App Store and is being developed for Android as well.
“We call it a talking camera for the blind community, and that really means that, powered by AI, we can help people with everyday tasks,” Shaikh said. “Identifying what’s on the package is definitely an important one. But we also enable going through your photos, recognizing who’s around you, reading books and so much more.”
Getting Haleon’s product catalog into the system wasn’t just a straight data dump. “We worked with Microsoft to enhance the experience,” Williams said. “So when people are interacting with our packaging, the experience is as usable and user-friendly as possible.”
Accommodations in products, packaging and marketing for people with disability is a relatively new movement in packaged goods, and it’s not always as easy. Unilever began working with WPP’s Wunderman Thompson to test a Degree Inclusive line of deodorants for people with visual or upper body disabilities last year. While the effort won an Innovation Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions last year, the final product line has yet to roll out as Unilever works to change or add features based on input from test users.