Be My Eyes is an app newly available for Android (and available for iPhone since 2015) that connects blind people to volunteers willing to help them with small tasks. It's the latest fascinating demonstration of how voluntary tech-enabled networks can solve problems.
The app, which boasts more than 600,000 volunteers and nearly 50,000 blind customers, requires little commitment. In the first week after I downloaded it and signed up, I received no requests. A video tutorial explains it can take weeks to receive a request, and not to worry if you can't answer it, because someone else will. The tasks are simple—you might be asked to differentiate between similar items, such as canned foods or cardigan sweaters—but they can be personal too. One case involved helping a blind woman read a pregnancy test.
The app's creators hope to turn their nonprofit venture into a for-profit one, but they promise to keep it free to users regardless.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Be My Eyes".