Today, I went to a demonstration of OrCam’s MyEye and MyReader at the The Norfolk & Norwich Association for The Blind in Great Yarmouth.
Both MyEye and MyReader are essentially a camera that you mount on to your own pair of glasses, or if you don’t have any (like me) they come with a frame without the lens for people who are totally blind.
The more exciting model MyEye, can be programmed to recognise faces and items around the home and the outside. You can just “look” at a person and just by pressing the trigger button (on a little control box you click to your belt) it will take a picture of the person and announce instructions for you to record a name in your own voice for that person.
Then the next time you look at that person, it will recognise the face and say out loud your pre-recorded label, without having to press the trigger button again. I did this to two different people, and when I moved my head to each one in turn, within a second, it announced the name of the person! Very Neat!
I didn’t get a chance to play with the second feature of recognising products like a tin of baked beans, but apparently it can be programmed with up to three pictures of the product from different angles or sides and then when you press the trigger while looking at the product, it will try and recognise it and say what it is that you are holding. Just like the facial recognition system, but for products instead.
The camera is very, very small and very light so it doesn’t press down on your nose with the extra weight. The only thing to get used to is the little leads that drapes back and around your ears to the control box.
The control box has three buttons on it, the power button, the volume button and the trigger button. The control box is about 50mm wide by 100mm long and 20mm thick. It has a 3.5mm socket for you to plug in an external speaker or, as in my case, a neckloop induction loop which proved very clear for my hearing aids to pick up the signal.
The battery would probably last only about a day if you use it quite often during the day, and recharging is simply done like any normal mobile phone overnight.
The cheaper model, MyReader, is simply an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) text reader. You press the trigger button and it will translate the text into the spoken word and deliver the audio in a little speaker right beside your ear (the MyEye can do this as well).
You have the ability to use your finger to point to a passage in the magazine or newsletter (or whatever you are reading) and the device will recognise your finger and automatically start reading the text if it can find any! I was told that the latest version will have controls for you to stop, repeat and skip the narrative.
In conclusion, they are both very useful gadgets, but especially the MyEye device, with its facial recognition, is very nice indeed, and quite quick to respond too!
And the bad news ..
The price! It is £1,600 for MyReader and £2,200 for MyEye! Phew!
But maybe they would be worth it, especially now that new methods and techniques are continuing to be developed, and the procedure for updating is fairly simple, swapping the memory card for a new one.
Now who can lend me a couple of thousand quid?! Smile!