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Few things are as isolating as losing one of your basic senses. Technology can’t replace a sense, but it can gift people new abilities. OrCam is doing that with its talking glasses for the blind and visually impaired. We had a chance to try it out ahead of its launch at this year’s CES.
The OrCam MyEye 2 magnetically attaches to the frame of your glasses. We got to try on a pair of glasses with the device attached and were impressed with how light it was.
With it’s integrated 15MP camera, it can read any text, recognize new and saved faces, products (currently over 2 million stored barcodes), currency, and more. Two LED lights assist the camera with illumination.
The AI-driven device translates the visuals it captures into audio in real time using natural language processing (NLP). The audio is output through the integrated HD speaker, but the MyEye 2 can also connect to Bluetooth speakers, earphones, or hearing aids.
OrCam designed the MyEye 2 with ease of use in mind, making it accessible to people not accustomed to wearable devices. Users can choose between using pointing gestures to activate the assistive vision or letting the device follow their gaze. Both methods allow hands-free operation and require neither a smartphone, nor Wi-Fi. The entire technology is packed into the wearable.
Fitting all this power into such a small device is like putting an elephant into a small closet. —Amnon Shashua, OrCam Co-Founder
The face recognition feature can store faces and remember names. This is the only information the MyEye 2 will store permanently. That said, the device does have Wi-Fi, which is needed to upload updates. On the upside, existing users will receive software updates, including new features.
The battery life for continuous reading is around two hours. In standby or idle mode, the MyEye 2 will last for two to three weeks. Charging the devices takes around 40 minutes and the device works while charging.
While the price of USD 4,500 may not seem accessible, it’s comparable to the price of a good pair of hearing aids. Moreover, health insurances in Europe and the US already cover the cost of the MyEye 2 for people with a visual impairment. In the US, veterans are eligible to receive the device through the Department for Veteran Affairs.