We first covered an OrCam product in 2015. The company had a novel concept for “smart glasses.” Rather than try to cram the electronics into a pair of glasses, they came up with the idea of an electronics module that would hang onto the earpiece of the glasses that you already wear. And rather than try to make a product for everyone, they focused instead on users with impaired vision.
Fast forward to CES 2022, and OrCam has made enormous strides. The OrCam MyEye 2 still clips onto your existing glasses, and performs many useful tasks. It can read text; just point to a page or a sign and it will read the text aloud through a speaker that is located discretely next to your ear. It recognizes different denominations of money, and can identify commercial products by scanning their UPC barcode. (Currently, it recognizes more than a million products.) It can even identify people you know by their faces so you know who you are speaking to without having to ask. The new features include the ability to give verbal instructions starting with “Hey OrCam,” and to use hand gestures to start and stop reading or to capture an image. It also includes an LED for supplemental lighting if needed.
The product now weighs 22.5 grams or about 0.8 ounces, which is less than a typical AA battery. It understands 20 different languages, and works in 50 countries where they use an alphabet other than the Latin letters used for English. Perhaps the most impressive feature, however, is that it does all this offline; no Internet connection is required. This means it performs faster and more reliably, with no concerns about data privacy. It does support Bluetooth, however in case you want to use it with an external speaker or earbuds.
OrCam has also created a handheld version that can be helpful for sighted users. The OrCam Read is about twice as large as MyEye, and uses lasers to track the text and create a box to define the area of interest.
The company has managed to squeeze a whole lot of smarts into very small packages that can do some extremely useful tasks. The MyEye device will help users with impaired vision be more independent and confident in their daily lives.