Optical Character Recognition System in College: The Story of Noah Al Hadidi

2016-02-29 | By Orcam Staff

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Optical Character Recognition System: OrCam at College
noah al hadidi in sunglasses

When Delta Airlines announced a change in the boarding gate, 22 year old Noah Al Hadidi, originally from Oman, did not understand what they were saying. Noah barely spoke English at the time and this language barrier resulted in Noah missing his flight to Arkansas where he was due to begin studying at University. This was just the beginning of Noah’s journey…


Noah Al Hadidi, 28, was born in Muscat, Oman. Seven months after his birth, Noah lost his eyesight as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Because Oman did not have the resources Noah needed in order to learn, he had to leave his family and go study at an institution for the blind in Bahrain. Noah lived in Bahrain until he moved to Saudi Arabia for high school. In Saudi Arabia, Noah started working for Nattiq Technologies, a company that develops new technology and software for the blind. The manager of Nattiq noticed that Noah had a special talent and encouraged him to apply to study in America. After writing to the ministry of higher education in Oman, Noah received a scholarship to study computer science in the United States. So at 22, Noah boarded a plane and started the next chapter of his life.


After the whole airport mishap, Noah eventually arrived at Arkansas State University where he began an intensive English learning program. Noah studied hard and made American friends in order to practice his English and it paid off because he passed the English as a Second Language program. Unfortunately, the University didn’t have the right technology he needed in order to learn for his degree so Noah decided to transfer to Colorado State University where he was put in touch with a blind student studying in the same program who was able to help him out throughout his degree.  With the help of technology like optical character recognition system and screen readers, Noah graduated with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Business. At the beginning of this year, Noah started a two year Master’s program in Computer Information Systems.


One such technology that helped Noah in school, and continues to do so, is the OrCam MyEye. The OrCam uses an optical character recognition system to read texts and relay the message to the user via a mini earpiece. He uses the OrCam MyEye to read textbooks, papers, and homework and says that “the text recognition feature is faster than other technologies I have tried in the past.”


As a “night owl”, Noah enjoys going out to restaurants with his friends and guide dog Amiga, who is only allowed to be pet when she is off duty. Noah uses the OrCam MyEye to read the menus as well as recognize his credit card and money when he wants to pay. When he does find time in his busy schedule to go food shopping, Noah uses the product recognition feature to read the boxes of products that he wants to buy.

Noah with dog amiga

Noah’s favorite things about Colorado are the people and the weather – when it’s not snowing. However, when it does snows it means that Noah can go skiing which he loves to do. When he skis, he gets paired with an instructor who gives him instructions on where to turn so he doesn’t bump into anything.  In addition to skiing, Noah also enjoys hiking with Amiga and playing goalball, which is a team sport designed for blind athletes where participants compete in teams and try to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponent’s goal.  Players must use the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball. There are no goalball tournaments where he lives but Noah enjoys playing with friends just for the fun of it.


After finishing his degree, Noah’s goal is to help businesses understand the needs of blind people and help them continue developing technologies that are more accessible for the blind community. With his motivation, energy, and OrCam MyEye’s optical character recognition system guiding him through school, Noah hopes his dreams will come true and he will be able to make a difference in the lives of people coping with vision loss.     general-us