OrCam devices are light and small in size, fit in one hand and very easy to use.
Israeli company OrCam has developed an artificial intelligence device that gives autonomy to people who are blind, visually impaired or have difficulty reading.
Since 2015, breakthrough technology in the form of a small portable device has revolutionized the daily lives of tens of thousands of users around the world.
OrCam was founded in 2010 by Amnan Shashua and Zev Aviram. It was born as an extension of Mobiley, an Israeli company that develops anti-collision and driving assistance systems.
“Basically, it’s a humanist project born thanks to some Mobileye engineers who wanted to help people who can’t see read and work,” explained Delphine Nabeth, OrCam’s business development manager.
“It all started with Amnon’s aunt, who suffers from macular degeneration. As she slowly loses her sight, her nephew realizes that a solution like Mobileye must be found to help humanity. “interviewed visually impaired people to find out what they missed the most. And they mostly answered reading, so the engineers focused on that aspect as a priority.”
How does OrCam work?
OrCam devices are light and small in size, fit in one hand, and are very easy to use.
Currently, two types of devices are available and widely marketed. OrCam MyEye is for the blind and visually impaired: it’s a small box that clips onto glasses and scans text or objects in front of it, then a voice dictates the content verbally. While OrCam Read works on a stylus reader model that enables people with low vision, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or those with dyslexia or illiteracy to read. The principle is simple: the user places the pen in front of the text and presses a button, then a voice command reads the inscription.
A 2019 study of 13 students in nine schools in Australia also demonstrated the benefits of OrCam in helping students with neurodevelopmental disorders or learning difficulties in reading. OrCam Read allowed them to focus more on the meaning of the text rather than 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 with these conditions, the process of reading requires so much effort that attention is focused on the material. It’s getting harder to do,” said Dr. Yonatan Wechsler, OrCam’s executive vice president of research and development.
“These devices offer a selection of advantages not found elsewhere, such as the immediacy or quality of diction, the synthetic voice is very clear and pleasant. You can also adjust the speed of the voice, if the person is wrong. Misunderstood or mistaken, they can take a picture again in a second, and the text is played back. There’s also a certain unprecedented flexibility of use,” said Nabeth.
The Israeli startup has developed its devices in nearly thirty languages and sold them in forty countries. The devices can also scan faces, or credit cards, banknotes and colors, which they record and transmit in real time. OrCam Read is also the first device to integrate an intelligent camera capable of reading all printed or digital text. “For facials and products, a person can save up to 150,” Nabeth explained.
A revolution to conquer the international market
For now, OrCam’s biggest markets are in the United States and England where the products were first released. The company then moved to Germany due to the significant coverage by mutual insurance companies and the resulting market. Then France and Spain and recently Ethiopia were added to a long list.
“Saudi Arabia just gave a big donation to Ethiopia but we didn’t have the device in Ethiopia so thanks to this opportunity we developed the software in that language in a month to have the device ready for transport. coins,” said Nabeth.
Thousands of OrCam devices are sold in France every year.
A leader in the field of high technology
“When people live with a disability, they are looking for the kind of novelty that solves many of the difficulties they face. We see this when we attend disability fairs, Many people are interested in this phenomenon. Also special is that we have reached people who are not disabled. For example, someone with glaucoma does not consider himself disabled, but medicine has it. There is no solution to bring,” Nabith said.
“Since it is a very advanced and high-performance technology, it is attractive even to older people who are not used to handling this type of device. And it is good for them to know that a Technology is specifically focused on their needs,” he continued. .
But OrCam doesn’t plan to stop there. In addition to improving its existing devices with new functionalities, the company is currently developing a highly advanced hearing aid, aimed at a wider audience, as well as the OrCam Learn device, which previously is available only in English and is dedicated to education. . Equipped with quality text analysis and reading software, it is designed as a true educational tool. A very promising technical feat that puts OrCam in the big leagues.