Israeli device allows visually impaired people to read – I24NEWS

OrCam devices are lightweight and small in size, fit in one hand and are very easy to use

Giving autonomy to people who are blind, visually impaired or who have difficulty reading thanks to artificial intelligence, this is the objective of the Israeli company OrCam, founded by Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram in 2010. By improving the quality of life of those who are unable to see or who have difficulty reading, thanks to a small portable device, this pioneering technology has, since 2015, revolutionized the daily lives of tens of thousands of users around the world.

OrCam was born as an extension of Mobileye, an Israeli company that develops anti-collision and vehicle driving assistance systems. “Basically, it’s a humanist project that was born thanks to some of the Mobileye engineers who wanted to help those who can’t see to read and work. It all started with Amnon Shashua’s aunt, co -founder of OrCam, who suffers from macular degeneration (DLMA).As she gradually lost her sight, her nephew thought that he had to find a solution equivalent to that of Mobileye to help the ‘humanity. They then questioned visually impaired people to find out what they lacked the most and they mostly answered reading. The engineers therefore focused on this aspect as a priority and then modernized the devices so that they were able to recognize faces and objects,” said Delphine Nabeth, European operational marketing manager at OrCam.

OrCamOrCam Read

How does OrCam work?

OrCam devices are lightweight and small in size, fit in one hand and are very easy to use. In addition, they do not require an internet connection. Currently, two kinds of devices are available and widely marketed. The OrCam MyEye is for blind and visually impaired people: it’s a small box that clips onto the glasses and scans the text or objects in front of the user, then a voice dictates the content orally in his language. While the OrCam Read works on the model of a stylus-reader which allows people with visual impairment, glaucoma, DLMA, or who suffer from dyslexia or illiteracy, to be able to read. The principle is simple: the user positions the pen in front of the text and presses the button, then a voice command reads the inscription. An unprecedented concept, which changes the lives of those who have already adopted it.

A study conducted in 2019 on 13 students in 9 schools in Queensland, Australia, also demonstrated all the advantages of OrCam in supporting students with neurodevelopmental disorders or learning difficulties in reading. OrCam Read allows them to focus more on the meaning of the text than on the act of reading. “Reading is a challenge for many people, sometimes because of a physical problem – sometimes because of a learning disability. For people in these situations, the act of reading requires so much effort that ‘It’s getting hard to focus on the content,’ says Dr. Yonatan Wexler, OrCam’s executive vice president of research and development.

Quality support

“These devices offer advantages of choice that are not found anywhere else, such as the instantaneity or the quality of the diction, the synthetic voice is very clear and pleasant. You can also adjust the speed of the voice, if the person has misunderstood or made a mistake, they can take a photo again in a second and the text is vocalized again. There is also a certain unparalleled flexibility of use”, assures Delphine Nabeth.

The Israeli start-up has produced its devices in around thirty languages ​​and sold them in around forty countries. The devices can also scan faces, or even credit cards, banknotes and colours, which they record and transmit in real time. OrCam Read is also the first device ever designed to integrate an intelligent camera capable of reading all printed or digital texts. “For faces and products, the person can save up to 150”, specifies Delphine.

A revolution to conquer the international market

For now, OrCam’s biggest market is in the United States and England where the products were first released. The company then turned to Germany because of the significant coverage by mutual insurance companies and a consequent market. Then France, or even Spain and more recently Ethiopia were added to a long list. “An Arab country has just made a large donation to Ethiopia but we didn’t have the device in Ethiopian. Thanks to this opportunity, so we developed the software in a month in this language to have the devices ready for use. be transported”, rejoices Delphine. In France every year, thousands of OrCam devices are also sold. In Israel, financial support is provided by health funds and mutual insurance companies as well as by the Ministry of Well-Being, according to certain criteria.

OrCamOrCam MyEye

A leader in the field of high technology

“When people live with a disability, they are on the lookout for this kind of novelty which solves many of the difficulties they have to face. We see this when we participate in disability fairs, a lot of people interest in the phenomenon. Our particularity also lies in the fact that we have reached people who do not have the status of disabled person. Someone who has glaucoma, for example, does not consider himself to be disabled, but medicine does not ‘has no solution to bring him,’ analyzes Delphine Nabeth.

“Because it’s a very advanced and high-performance technology, it’s appealing even to older people who aren’t used to handling this kind of device. And it’s flattering for them to know that a technology has focused specifically on their needs,” she continues.

But OrCam does not intend to stop there! In addition to improving its existing devices with new features, the company is currently developing the OrCam Learn device in several languages, which is currently only available in English and is dedicated to education. Equipped with text analysis and reading quality software, it is designed as a real educational tool for students. A very promising technological feat that should project OrCam into the big leagues.

Caroline Haïat is a journalist for the French site of i24NEWS

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Israeli device allows visually impaired people to read – I24NEWS

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