It is clear that people blessed with eyesight can tell at a glance if their clothes match before an important job interview, read their mail, understand menus in restaurants, check expiration dates and interpret street signs.
But blind people face a number of challenges when interacting with their environment because so much information is encoded visually.
To get around this, a team consisting of computer scientists from several universities, including the University of Rochester - decided to outsource the task of problem-solving to people: specifically, to Amazon Mechanical Turk's masses of online workers, reports New Scientist.
They have developed VizWiz, a mobile application that allows users to identify objects based on human intelligence.
Visually impaired users can take a photo, record a question about the photo, and then crowd sourced answers are received.
The app owes its swiftness and accuracy to a marriage of computer chips and good old-fashioned human brainpower.