The OrCam My Eye is a wearable device that converts visual information into spoken words, helping people with low vision to navigate independently through everyday life. The device consists of a miniature camera clipped onto the wearer’s eyeglass frame, an attached bone conduction ear-piece, and a small box housing the battery and computing power that is attached via a cord. The OrCam reads any printed text, on any surface, including newspapers, books, computer screens, restaurant menus, labels on supermarket products, and street signs. In addition, it is also capable of recognizing stored faces of individuals and identifying many consumer products.
The device is activated by simply pointing a finger or pressing a button. One thing to realize here is that users do need to have a little remaining vision to know where to point their finger in the first place. The OrCam uses optical character recognition (OCR) in combination with an algorithm called ShareBoost, which balances recognition accuracy with speed. For recognizing faces it uses a machine learning-based facial recognition system.
Battery life is good enough for typical use throughout one day, providing four hours of constant use or 24 hours on standby, while taking four hours to fully recharge.
In a small clinical study, the device was tested on twelve patients with visual impairment and best-corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in their better eye, which means they were legally blind. The participants performed a 10-item test simulating activities of daily life, including recognizing products and reading a variety of items such as emails, letters, newspapers, books, and signs, earning one point for the successful completion of each item. Without wearing the device, the participants’ average score was 2.5 out of 10. Using other low-vision aids such as magnifying glasses, their average score improved to 6. When first trying the OrCam device, after a short training session, their average score instantly improved to 9.5, and after a week of wearing, there was a further improvement to 9.8 out of 10. The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and published in JAMA Ophthalmology.
Developed in Israel, the OrCam is currently able to process English, German and Hebrew, with more languages to follow. It is available in selected markets (the company claims to already have more than one thousand users worldwide) and is still quite costly, running up to over two thousand dollars. A more limited version called the OrCam Reader is also available which focuses only on reading text, but is a little more affordable.
Study results in JAMA Ophthalmology: Evaluation of a Portable Artificial Vision Device Among Patients With Low Vision…
Product page: Orcam…