A new wearable device that converts text to speech could help people who are blind or vision-impaired to read again and recognise faces.
The OrCam MyEye is a small, lightweight and inconspicuous device that clips onto regular spectacle frames via magnets. Controlled with simple and intuitive hand gestures, it uses its inbuilt camera to take an image, and then converts any text to speech, allowing the person to hear what is written in front of them.
The device can decipher text from both print and digital surfaces, from any distance, and can read most type sizes, allowing the wearer to have reading vision almost comparable to someone without vision loss.
The device can identify bank notes, detect if people are nearby, and recognise up to 100 pre-programmed faces.
OrCam MyEye is available in two versions from Quantum.
In Australia, patients may be able to access the device through government programs such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Aged Care.
According to the 2016 National Eye Health Survey, more than 453 000 Australians are vision impaired or blind. The leading causes of uncorrectable vision loss in Australia are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. ORCAM MyEye offers people suffering from these conditions and other types of vision loss the chance to read again and regain some independence.
The device has some limitations and may not suit all patients depending on the type and severity of vision impairment and their level of cognitive function.