For those who are blind or partially blind, the idea of reading plain text might sound like a fantasy. Braille has helped countless people regain some of their independence, but it isn’t a practical option for every situation. With OrCam's MyEye 2.0, those who are blind or visually impaired can once again consume any text placed before them. This leading-edge device deciphers text on almost any surface, and all of the hardware is packed into a wearable unit that is about the size of a pack of gum.
The Origins of MyEye
In 2014, the first MyEye device was launched by the medical technology company OrCam. The founders of OrCam realized that there were no comfortable devices on the market that could accurately translate text in real time. Their original device was relatively accurate and would work in many different environments, but it was much too big to carry around. Some of their test models resembled goggles or large hats that would make the wearer stand out from the crowd. The MyEye 2.0 is just a fraction of the size of the original unit and weighs well under an ounce.
Wearing the MyEye 2.0
This device is nothing more than a thin box that can be attached to the side of a pair of glasses. It is extremely unobtrusive, and some users claim that they completely forget they are wearing the MyEye after a few minutes. The unit attaches to the glasses with a small magnetic clip, and that means it can be adjusted or taken off in a matter of moments. Unlike many other visual aids, the MyEye doesn’t require a nearby smartphone or wireless connection. All of the software that is needed to capture and translate images is housed inside the metal casing.
Using the MyEye 2.0
One of the biggest challenges of creating the MyEye 2.0 was figuring out a way to make it as intuitive as possible. Instead of relying on voice commands, the engineers decided that the MyEye should either track eye movement or be controlled through hand gestures. After pointing to a piece of paper or block of writing, the MyEye takes a few digital photos. Those images are then run through a program that breaks down and translates the writing. Once the writing has been translated, the small speaker whispers the information into the wearer’s ear.
Other Detection Possibilities
In addition to reading text, the MyEye also identifies up to 100 faces. After capturing an image of a face, the user can “tag” that face with a name and some basic information. The same technology also identifies money notes, products, and even colors. As time goes on and the software becomes more complex, the engineers believe that the MyEye will be able to identify tens of thousands of objects in real time.