It’s hard for me to believe that I have been lucky enough to have been using the OrCam device for more than six months. I can clearly recollect the first time that I clipped the OrCam camera onto my glasses after some basic instruction from a very patient OrCam trainer. I was somewhat apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. Would this be like some of the other assistive devices that I had tried in the past? I had tried so many optical aids over the years that just didn’t make a significant difference – I guess that I mentally prepared myself for just another disappointment. Well, I really have to admit that the first time I tried it, the OrCam the experience was nothing less than mind boggling!
I simply could not believe that the OrCam device was able to scan a full-page magazine article and read it back to me within a second or two in a rather pleasant female voice. This was simply amazing! I could even put the magazine down and the OrCam device continued to read the text back to me until it finished the entire page. I also learned how to adjust the speed at which the article was read back to me. This will really come in handy for reading academic texts.
After learning the basics I was ready to venture outside my home to try the OrCam device in different settings. Well, the first few times I used the OrCam device outside of my home I felt really self-conscious – after all, how many people walk around wearing a camera clipped on to their glasses attached to a small computer strapped to their belt? I recall the first time that I got on to a crowded bus and began to notice how many people around me were wearing all types of electronic headgear: earphones, Bluetooth devices, etc. My attitude simply changed. People would ask if I was wearing Google-Glass or optical aids. When I responded by explaining what the OrCam device does, the typical response was “no way – can’t be” and “how does that thing read for you” or “that’s really cool.” Suddenly I began to feel a lot more relaxed and less self-conscious about wearing my OrCam device. I also felt a lot more comfortable explaining to people what “low vision” means in general, and openly talking about my own personal disability in particular.
I have tried many optical aids
This was a new experience for me, one I could not have imagined. Venturing out to the local shopping mall was a particularly unforgettable experience. In general, I never really enjoyed any kind of shopping, especially looking in store windows and other displays that required reading of small print, which was always impossible for me. Well, to my pleasant surprise, after some practice, the OrCam device enabled me to read what was written on many items in various store window displays. For the first time in my life I actually enjoyed window shopping! It was a completely new experience for me and gave me a feeling of independence that I had never experienced before.
When I took my first trip to the local supermarket I felt that independence even more. I consider myself to be pretty health conscious when it comes to food shopping, but my inability to read the often small print on most food packaging, and especially ingredients and nutritional content, severely limited my ability to shop independently. I got to the point where I felt rather uncomfortable constantly asking other shoppers to help me. Even with a pocket magnifier, or any other optical aids I had, I still had difficulty. Now, with my OrCam device, I can easily pick up almost any product and read the label almost effortlessly. I realize that by design the OrCam device is not (or at least not yet) able to provide me with a solution to all my vision problems, but what it can do today is simply amazing – better than anything else that I had ever used in the first 60+ years of my life.