Guest post by Gil Peled OrCam device resting on a newspaperHi, I’m Gil, an architect and research student involved in various initiatives for promoting green buildings and sustainable living in Israel. I’ve also been lucky to get involved with OrCam and become a part of the development team, a direction that I had never anticipated going in but which I am very much enjoying. For most of my life I have experienced long periods of impaired vision due to corneal grafts (BE Keratoconus), though after undergoing several eye surgeries my vision has been somewhat improved. Despite my struggles with impaired vision, my spirit and curiosity gets me to all kinds of interesting places. One such place is the Entrepreneurs Club at the Azrielly Engineering College in Jerusalem, where we often have the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers, who address our group about various topics. At one such event, we had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Yonatan Wexler, Senior VP of R&D at OrCam, who presented the OrCam device and its features. Needless to say, we were all very impressed! That meeting sparked my interest in OrCam. It’s always been a struggle for me to read, and the large amount of text that is required for my professional work and research were particularly challenging. The OrCam device seemed like it could be the perfect solution to my problem. It was great to test it out, still in its early development phase. I tried out an initial version of the OrCam device on a voluntary basis and tried to find ways to make it work better to accommodate my specific requirements. The trial period was very interesting and after sharing my insights with the OrCam team, I was invited to join as a User Tester and Adviser. I now have the privilege and opportunity to work alongside the OrCam staff to help those suffering from impaired vision. My work includes:
  • Ensuring the device is user friendly and operates as it is meant to, engaging with a team from a variety of backgrounds, all of us working together to achieve best results.
  • Suggesting changes and improvements to features and design, tailoring the device, as much as possible, to the requirements of visually impaired.
  • Proposing new ideas: such as to read the Bible, so that “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of the doom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see” Isiah 29:18.
All these require engaging with the dynamic and multi-cultural Israeli society, and applying a multidisciplinary and inclusive approach to people and tasks. It is always interesting to witness the reactions of people who see the device for the first time. These can be emotional and sometimes quite funny. When I was traveling abroad, I showed the device to someone and she was totally overwhelmed with excitement, and we enjoyed a good laugh about that too. Working with OrCam is an ongoing challenge with tremendous satisfaction- knowing that we can make significant improvements to people’s lives. Despite all the difficulties due to impaired vision and other disabilities, it seems that there is a happy and rewarding ending to it here at OrCam. “Seeing is believing”!
Gil Peled photoGil Peled is an architect and research student involved in various pioneering projects and initiatives for promoting green buildings and sustainable living in Israel. These include initiating the first green retrofit of an existing multi-residential building in Israel and initiating the first neighborhood sustainability coordinator in Jerusalem. He was also involved as a planner and steering team member for the first urban nature park in Israel, the Valley of Gazelles Park, as well as several community garden initiatives.  
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