OrCam, a company that makes products to aid accessibility for the visually impaired, has won a CES innovation award for its glasses-mounted MyEye Pro device. It aids the blind and visually impaired by reading out printed and digital text, recognizing people, identifying products, and more. OrCam took the prize in both the CES innovation accessibility and health and wellness categories.
"We are living in uncertain times, yet... our users’ challenges related to access have not stopped during the pandemic. If anything, they have intensified,” said OrCam co-founder and co-chairman Prof. Amnon Shashua in OrCam's blog post.
MyEye Pro mounts on a pair of eyeglasses and communicates visual information audibly. A key new feature is "Smart Reading" that works much like the Crtl-F/CMD-F (Find) functions on a PC or Mac, allowing users to get specific information — something that helped sway the CES panel "The interactive smart reading capability allows users an experience tailored specifically for them," the judges wrote.
Another recent feature that arrived last year is the OrCam voice assistant. Users can speak to MyEye Pro (or the company's handheld OrCam Read) to activate facial recognition, or tell the device to read pages in books, newspapers, and restaurant menus. "Newly released 'Hey OrCam' enables control of all device features and settings hands-free, using voice commands," as the CES judges noted.
As for the hardware itself, the OrCam Eye Pro is an update over the previous OrCam Eye product with a faster processor, two microphones instead of one, longer battery life, improved eyeglass attachment and more. Thanks to the processor improvements, it powers on quicker and "responds faster and with heightened accuracy [for] pointing gesture responsiveness, bar code and banknote identification, and face recognition," OrCam wrote.
Just ahead of CES 2021 last year, we noted that accessibility in tech had improved but that more had to be done. Adding functionality to existing products and software is an important part of that, but purpose-built devices play a role as well. "Both OrCam MyEye and OrCam Read have been instrumental devices in ensuring our users have been able to continue their academic, professional and personal pursuits and remain connected to family, friends and society at large," Shashua said.