Jesper Hvirring Henriksen

Jesper Hvirring Henriksen – lending your eyes to the blind

How a simple app has changed the lives of millions of people all over the world.
Be My Eyes and CTO Jesper Hvirring Henriksen are on a philantropic mission to keep the app free of charge to its blind users. But giving something away for fee, always costs money.

The Eyes Of The Beholder

The simple act of selecting milk from the fridge, discerning colors while doing laundry, or taking an evening stroll is a complex expedition for someone who is blind. Understandably, it’s somewhat difficult for seeing people to fully grasp how difficult it is.

We may register the blind man with his cane on the street, or the woman and her guide dog. They pass us and that’s it. How many stop to think “how does he know what way to go?”. “How does he know what food to pick out in the supermarket?” – questions like that. Not many. We have no idea how they get by and manage daily tasks if we are never in contact with them.

Fortunately, there are organizations and individuals dedicated to making life more accessible for the blind community.

Meet Jesper Hvirring Henriksen, CTO of Be My Eyes, an innovative company with a mission to connect the blind with sighted volunteers through simple technology – a smartphone app.

At this weeks Community Breakfast he told the story of the free of charge app that since its launch in 2015 has already connected millions of users all over the world.

A little over a year ago he was approached and offered the job as CTO. At that point Jesper had other plans and actually decided to take som time off to himsef. But the offer was too good to turn down. He’d known about Be My Eyes since the beginning and the idea was just brilliant.
So instead of taking time off to himself, he decided to direct his time towards a group that neede him more.

What can we say? There are no words to describe how proud to have you and your little team in the house, Jesper. Please send all of our regards to founder Hans Jørgen Wiberg and let him know, Be My Eyes now has a fanclub at Republikken too!

Heart of Be My Eyes – The Role of Volunteers

The heart of Be My Eyes lies in its community of volunteers, ready to assist the pool of 600.000 blind users. Without them, there would be no community and thus no app.

With over 7 million volunteers worldwide, the app has created a global network of individuals willing to lend their eyes to those in need. Spanning over different timezones and supporting 200 languages, there’s always a match for every need!

But what motivates these volunteers to offer their assistance?

According to Jesper Hvirring Henriksen, it’s a combination of factors. First and foremost, the concept of Be My Eyes is incredibly compelling. Being able to help someone in a practical, meaningful way resonates with people.
The ease of volunteering through the app, and being able to provide assistance right away, makes it an attractive option for those looking to make a difference.

Furthermore, volunteeers typically receive a call once every three to six months, minimizing the commitment required while maximizing the impact.

Additionally, companies can organize corporate volunteering events, further expanding the pool of volunteers available to assist the blind community

Making the call isn’t always easy

We don’t mean in the sense that being able to find your phone or get the app to work as a blind person.
But in the sense that having to call a complete stranger for help

We don’t mean in the sense that being able to find your phone or get the app to work as a blind person.
But in the sense that having to call a complete stranger for help can be extremely transgressive and vulnerable. What if something goes wrong? What if the technical part doesn’t work? What if the other person things I’m too slow and hangs up? So many thoughts and insecurities that anyone, blind or seeing, can relate to.

And probably one of the reasons it’s a challenge to get more blind or vision impaired users on the platform.
Many often end up calling family or friends for help. Unfortunatly, that often leads to the feeling of being a burden to those.

So what can Jesper Hvirring Henriksen and Be My Eyes do to reach out to more users and make them understand that the voulnteer community is there for them and want to help?

It’s a tough one, and one of those riddles that the team is constantly working on solving.

According to Jesper, there’s around 285 million blind or low vision people around the world, and an estimaet is that be My Eyes should be able to reach around 40 million of them. In other words – there’s room for much more to be done to get there.

Collaborating with world-class companies

Be My Eyes is not resting on it’s laurels of philantropical popularity.

In order to be able to keep the app free of charge for the users and volunteers, Be My Eyes has to make money. That’s common sense.

That doesn’t mean money is just pourring in, although Be My Eyes is an important player on the market. Competition is there but being free of charge Be My Eyes has an advantage that makes it popular. Also with big companies like Microsoft, Google and OpenAI to mention just a few.

With a simple tap, customers can access the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk from their phone to get the help they need with Microsoft products and services. The same goes for Google that supports via video too.

The list of collaborating partners is long – and is definitly one of the ways ton indirectly get more blind users onto the app.


One of the exciting developments for Be My Eyes is its collaboration with OpenAI. OpenAI’s technology, such as GPT-3, has the potential to enhance the experience for blind and visually impaired users. While the app already connects users with volunteers, OpenAI’s technology could provide image descriptions, making it even more accessible and informative.

Jesper Hvirring Henriksen highlights the creative potential of AI, especially in describing visual elements. AI can provide detailed descriptions of images, allowing blind users to better understand their surroundings. For example, it can describe a room’s layout, the people within it, or the objects on a table. This capability holds immense promise in making the world more accessible to the blind.

However, he also acknowledges the limitations of AI in certain situations. When absolute accuracy is crucial, human assistance may still be preferred. For instance, reading the fine print on a medication label may require a human touch.

Seems like the world of OpenAI is withould boundries but we are happy that you are still very much in touch with the human aspect, Jesper. Interacting with other people prevents loneliness, too, as you mentioned.

Looking Ahead

The journey of Be My Eyes has been one of innovation and empathy. By bridging the gap between the blind and the sighted, the organization has made significant strides in enhancing the lives of the visually impaired. As technology continues to advance, collaborations like the one with OpenAI will open up new avenues for making the world more accessible.

The challenges faced by the blind may persist, but with the dedication of organizations like Be My Eyes and the support of volunteers and cutting-edge technology, a brighter and more inclusive future is on the horizon.

We are sure Be My Eyes and all the users and volunteers are better off with you navigaing and supervising the technical projects and ideas, Jesper. No doubt your organisation made the right choise to approach you.

If not, we wouldn’t have had the most inspiring Community Breakfast on this weeks Thursday morning. We’re sure all your co-members agree. they were the ones who just as engaged kept asking you questions and wouldn’t leave.

Be My Eyes friends and partners:

Jobs For humanity

Read more about Be My Eyes here