Low Vision Aids
Low vision aids like the OrCam MyEye can help people who are visually impaired to regain their independence.
Low vision aids like the OrCam MyEye can help people who are visually impaired to regain their independence. OrCam is just one of the many Israeli startups making a difference in the world. Amnon Shashua, OrCam co-founder, had a vision of using technology to help the visually impaired. That’s how the OrCam was born and became one of the most portable and discreet low vision aids on the market. OrCam is a small smart camera that attaches to the user’s glasses and can read texts, recognizes faces, and identify products. With the simple point of a finger or press of the trigger button, the Orcam takes a picture of the text in front of it, processes the data and sends an audio snippet saying what it sees to the user via a mini earpiece. Because the video feed is processed in the pocket instead of in the cloud like many mobile apps do, response times are quicker, Shashua said. In addition, unlike other low vision products, the OrCam is not connected to a cloud or Wi-Fi so the information is private and users won’t be left stranded when in areas that have poor mobile-data service. Amnon sees the OrCam as a way for people who are visually impaired to regain their independence and rely less on the help of others. “Imagine there is a helper standing next to you, seeing what you are supposed to see, figuring out what visual information you want and whispering into your ear what you are about to see,” he said. OrCam started taking orders four years ago when the device only worked in English and was available to the US market. Now, four years later, the device works in English, Hebrew, German, French and Spanish. Other languages are being worked on and should be available in the near future. “As the world population ages, we will see an increase in the visually impaired,” said Cheri Wiggs, a director at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. “At this point, we aren’t preventing or curing blindness so any new development in assistive devices for visually impaired is very important.” The OrCam is one of such low vision products that can impact the lives of people who are visually impaired worldwide.