By Nick Neville
BU News Service
LAS VEGAS – The blind can now see thanks to OrCam MyEye 2.0, a Siri-style device that watches the world and acts as your own computerized assistant. This breakthrough in artificial vision has the ability to read text from any surface and recognize both faces and products.
“Our mission is to empower people who are partially sighted, blind and have reading difficulties, including dyslexia or those who experience reading fatigue, to study, work and live their lives with a high degree of independence,” OrCam co-founder and CEO Ziv Aviram said in a press release.
While other wearable tech can be bulky and obtrusive, the OrCam is no larger than a finger and weighs only .8 ounces. The device magnetically mounts to the wearer’s eyeglasses and is the only wearable artificial vision technology that can be activated by a pointing gesture or by following the wearer’s gaze.
A CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Accessible Tech category, OrCam can be used as a standalone device without the use of Wi-Fi or a smartphone. Its three key features operate in similar ways.
The U.S. version, which reads in English, Spanish and French, can scan any surface—books, restaurant menus, signs, computer and phone screens—with a simple point in the direction of the surface. Its product database includes over 700,000 brands and a pointing gesture activates this feature as well.
With its facial recognition, the visually impaired can hear who is in front of them at any time. OrCam can also learn names and repeat them back to the wearer whenever a face it recognizes appears in front of the device.
The company said it also hopes to aid students with dyslexia, the most common language-based learning disability, through the device.
The OrCam MyEye 2.0 officially launched in U.S. markets last month for $3,500 but Anat Nulman, western U.S. sales manager, spoke of hopes to create partnerships with Student Disability Centers around the country soon.
All technology for the second generation version of the OrCam was developed by OrCam Technologies in Israel. They said they believe it will change the assistive vision space for years to come.
“We were able to compact our larger device, which was still the smallest on the market, into something even smaller,” Nulman said. “So we innovated and disrupted the industry with our first device and we disrupted ourselves with the second device.”