Thursday, July 11, 2013
Smart Glasses by OrCam Can Help Those Who Can Not See
The new Israeli start-up company, OrCam, has recently created a device that is getting a lot of buzz in the optical world as a unique and amazing way for visually impaired people to “read” the world around them. The camera based system is designed to be of help for replacement or helper of eyesight and for the wearer to be able to read "easily" and move freely.
While many other devices and apps have come out in the past which claim to help visually impaired people “see” better or translate any text that they encounter, most of them have had very limiting capabilities and didn’t quite work in the ways that they were promised.
With the OrCam smart glasses, you go right to reading the different objects that are in front of you! A small camera is attached to the arm of the glasses frames with a thin cable. This cable supports a portable computer than has been designed to be small enough to fit right into the wearer’s pocket. The camera system works by clipping it onto your glasses, then the wearer is able to point out different words or objects in their surroundings and the bone-conduction speaker on the device will read it aloud for them. OrCam smart glasses are also designed to recognize and speak “text in the wild.” This means anything from a magazine or newspaper that a wearer picks up, to a diverse object in the area such as landmarks, traffic lights and the faces of your friends.
“What is remarkable is that the device learns from the user to recognize a new product,” said Tomaso Poggio, a computer scientist at M.I.T. who is a computer vision expert. “This is more complex than it appears, and, as an expert, I find it really impressive.”
The price range of about $2500 is quite attractive and makes owning the system reasonable for someone who wants the gift of sight. The price is about the same as an average pair of hearing aids for an older adult.
In the United States, 21.2 million people over the age of 18 have some kind of visual impairment, including age-related conditions, diseases and birth defects, according to the 2011 National Health Survey by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. OrCam said that worldwide there were 342 million adults with significant visual impairment, and that 52 million of them had middle-class incomes.
Look for more exciting updates regarding this new technology.
excerpts taken from recent article by John Markoff/NYTimes and an EyeCare20/20 blog