Over 21 million adults in the United States suffer from vision loss. With the help of assistive technology, people who are visually impaired can achieve greater independence.
The OrCam MyEye is a smart camera that sits on a pair of eyeglasses and reads texts to the user via a mini earpiece – you could call them “glasses for the legally blind.” The OrCam MyEye does not affect the user’s actual eye or sight but rather gives the user independence by reading text and relaying the information to the user so he or she does not need to ask others for help. OrCam’s goal is to help people who are blind or visually impaired regain their independence by making it easier for them to do daily activities on their own.
For example, the text recognition feature allows the user to read a menu, mail, bills, and product labels on their own. June Wheeler, OrCam MyEye user, explains that “as a result of my macular degeneration, I began to find everyday actions, such as placing toothpaste on my toothbrush, increasingly difficult to carry out. Identifying products while shopping, recognizing faces, and reading the newspaper – all of which instantly and discreetly performed by OrCam – were among a growing number of daily activities with which I had difficulty as my vision deteriorated,” she said. The OrCam MyEye now assists June with shopping. “I am now able to buy the correct items in the supermarket. Furthermore, I do not get confused between products as I use my OrCam MyEye to read labels and make sure I am selecting what I intend to buy,” says June.
A study of the OrCam MyEye was done to see if the device enhanced the capability of participants to complete a range of everyday tasks. The study was conducted by ophthalmologists at the University Of California Davis Eye Center, and found that the OrCam MyEye dramatically improved the ability of participants in the study to successfully complete a range of tasks which they could not accomplish without the device.
“We haven’t seen anything else comparable to OrCam’s product,” says Mark J. Mannis, director of the UC Davis Eye Center. “While the technology is sophisticated, it is easy to operate even for elderly patients for whom technology is daunting,” says Mannis, who specializes in corneal transplants. “And secondly, it’s very portable, not obtrusive, and it works very efficiently.”
With the help of the OrCam MyEye glasses for the legally blind, people with vision loss can live fuller more independent lives.