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  July 24, 2013
Sight Seeing

New Device Helps Vision Impaired Read and Navigate

By Eye² Staff

A innovative smart glasses device developed by an Israeli company is helping people with vision impairments read printed text, get around on foot or public transportation, shop, recognize and find objects and know who is near them.

The new device, also known as OrCam, consists of a compact, eyeglass-mounted camera that is connected by a cable to a portable computer that fits in the user’s pocket. When the wearer points at an object, the system reads it and transmits the audio to the wearer using a bone-conduction speaker. The device can be clipped onto almost any eyeglass frame, including sunglasses, according to the company that developed it, which is also known as OrCam.

Wearers can use the device to read newspapers and books, signs, labels on any product including medication and even text on a computer, phone or television screen. If the wearer points to a specific article or paragraph, OrCam will start reading from the beginning of that part, or point to the top of the text and OrCam will read it from the beginning. The device can recognize products, money and notes as well as personal items such as a pen or credit card.

OrCam can help the wearer navigate by telling them when a traffic light changes from red to green or which bus line is coming. It can read signs and memorize places the wearer has already been to.

The system comes pre-installed with hundreds of objects it can recognize. However, it can learn to recognize new faces, places and objects. To teach the device something new, the wearer simply shakes it in front of the camera; for a place or face, the wearer just waves their hand. When OrCam sees these gestures instructs the wearer in real time on how to store the item.

OrCam currently works only in English, but the company said it plans to add more languages over time. The introductory price is $2,500.

Click here to watch a video demonstration.

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