OrCam: Technology for the Visually Impaired
Author: Thomas C. Weiss : Contact: Disabled World
Published: 2015-07-27 : (Rev. 2016-07-07)
Synopsis and Key Points:
OrCam is a glasses-mounted camera that will read text, describe objects, and identify faces for the blind.
OrCam is an intuitive portable device with a smart camera mounted on the frames of a person's eyeglasses. The device uses the power of Artificial Vision to assist people who experience a visual impairment. OrCam recognizes products and text and speaks to the person using it through an ear-piece.
OrCam is a glasses-mounted camera that will read text, describe objects, and identify faces for the blind and vision impaired. The device was developed by OrCam Technologies Limited, and was released as a prototype in September 2013. The OrCam device consists of two main components: the head unit and the base unit. The head unit consists of a camera and a microphone, and is mounted on the frames of a pair of eyeglasses. The box-like base unit contains the algorithms and processing components that give the device its functionality, and can be clipped to a belt or left to rest in a pocket.
OrCam was founded in the year 2010 with a plain mission; to harness the power of artificial vision to assist people who are visually impaired. OrCam has created a technologically advanced device that is unique in its ability to provide visual aid through a discreet and wearable platform and simple, easy to use interface which serves to enhance the daily lives of people with vision loss. The ultimate result is that OrCam provides people with increased independence.
The device was developed by leaders in the Computer Vision and Machine Learning field. OrCam's team includes dedicated:
- Electrical engineers
- Software engineers
- Computer engineers
- Hardware design experts
The company has an excellent service team, they take pride in the fact that this team includes people who are low-vision or blind. The team is dedicated to creating technology that helps real people. What follows is more specific information concerning the OrCam product.
The Orcam device has the ability to read text in real time. A person can read books, newspapers, signs, labels on consumer products and even text on a smartphone or computer screen. The device is great for use on the go and at home.
Recognition of Personal Objects:
Users have the ability to personalize the OrCam device by teaching it to recognize particular products around them. They can use the product to recognize previously entered consumer products, credit cards and money notes to make shopping both easier and quicker.
The device has the ability to identify known faces. No more guessing; previously stored faces are both identified and announced after entering the camera's view. What this means for people with vision impairment is less awkward situations and more control of their own environment.
All a person has to do to use the OrCam product is point. The device responds to a simple and intuitive gesture, a point of a person's finger, or the press of a single button. Whether it is to find an item, recognized product, or to read, OrCam responds instantly. There is no need to search for audio books, to learn new software, or to use other types of tools.
"I can get a quick view of the newspaper without all of the strain. I read my email from my smartphone on the go. With OrCam you really get more out of life - I feel less dependent and more relaxed." - "Moshe F, Legally blind from childhood
The OrCam device is available only in America at this time and works in English only. The company plans to add more languages and regions as time passes. The device is designed to be intuitive, operating is done by simply pointing. It takes only a few minutes to get the hand of using the device and around two weeks to personalize the device. From then on, all it has the ability to do is at a person's fingertips.
People who use the OrCam can definitely take the device with them when they leave home. The OrCam device has two parts:
- A head unit that weighs less than an ounce connected by a thin cable
- A base unit that is around the size of a glasses case and weighs a few ounces
The internal battery in the OrCam device is rechargeable and is designed to last for an entire day's worth of reasonable use. It even comes with a belt-clip so the user can conveniently clip it to their clothing and a pouch designed for the product.
The OrCam device was designed for people who experience visual impairment. Pointing helps the device focus on what the person is interested in. People without the ability to designate a region of interest, or identify the direction of text, might not benefit fully from the OrCam's abilities.
OrCam's proprietary technology is unique in its ability to process what it sees right away without taking the time to retrieve information from somewhere else. The device can be personalized to remember hundreds of items a person's uses on a frequent basis in its internal memory. It does not require a computer or Internet connection, keeping the person's usage private. The OrCam device can read nearly any printed text such as:
- Labels on consumer products
- Text on a smartphone or computer
The OrCam device does not recognize fonts designed to resemble handwriting, or handwriting itself. The OrCam device uses a small, external personal speaker. The ear-piece is placed next to the person's ear and does not interfere with usual hearing. The company is aware that eyeglasses are unique and important. Glasses are a part of a person's look and not simply a visual aid. For this reason, the OrCam device was designed to be mounted on a person's existing glasses frames or sunglasses.
OrCam and Future Features
In the future, OrCam will be equipped with the ability to recognize colors, places and far more. For example; imagine using OrCam to orient yourself by reading outdoor signs and teaching it to remember places you have already visited. The device will be able to tell you which bus line is approaching. OrCam will even have the ability to tell you the color of the shirt you are wearing.
The OrCam device recognizes text and products, and speaks to the person wearing the device via a bone-conduction ear-piece.
- Identifies faces of individuals that were previously photographed with the device's camera.
- Matches the faces of an individual with their name, which the device announces when coming in sight of a person who's image is stored in its memory.
- Recognizes money notes, such as a $5 bill or a 10 pound bill.
- Can identify hundreds of places, such as libraries or grocery stores; objects, such as pens or lamps; and products, such as Toyotas or Chevrolets.
- Reads most digital text, such as that on a television or computer.
- Reads printed text, such as books, newspapers, food labels, restaurant menus, and street signs.
- 1: Seeing Sound: Device Using Auditory Signals Helps Blind See : California Institute of Technology (2015/10/27)
- 2: Electronic Eye Cane Enhances Mobility for Blind : IOSPress_STM (2014/10/20)
- 3: X1 Talks: TV Voice Remote Control for Blind and Visually Impaired : Comcast Corporation (2014/11/12)
- 4: Sonar Technology Aids People with Vision Disabilities : Disabled World (2015/01/23)
- 5: Hearing Impaired Clocks and Vibrating Watches : Disabled World (2009/01/17)
- 6: Bradley Timepiece: Watch for Vision Impaired : Disabled World (2015/03/24)
- 7: Talking Scientific Calculator for Blind Students : Texas Instruments (2015/09/05)
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