Some technological innovations are merely cool. Others can be only be viewed as life-changing, especially when they address and overcome limitations of the human body.
This creation is clearly in the latter category.
And for those who have trouble seeing, are gradually losing their eyesight or are already blind, this can help dramatically improve their daily lives.
The device is the OrCam MyEye 2. Yes, kind of a clunky name, but what it does is much more important than what it's called. And while expensive, it's quite a game changer. Basically, it's a camera-computer-translator-speaker that sees what's in front of you and tells you, in your ear, what's there.
While feathery light and measuring the just 3 inches long, the device clips on to the side of your glasses to provide a window on your world. It sees what you cannot, with the wearer directing the MyEye using simple hand signals. It can read printed material, newspapers, food labels, computer screens, books, what have you, and it tells you what it's reading word-for-word.
It also can perform facial recognition, storing visual information about a person that can be retrieved at a later date. And if someone's a stranger who it hasn't previously identified, MyEye describes the person ("a young boy") to you.
In addition, it can identify colors and it can assist when making purchases, for instance, helping distinguish a $5 bill from a $50. And if you're confronted with a foreign language it can even translate it for you. That's terrific. (Perhaps even well-heeled travelers without visual difficulties might go for this, too.)
To operate, the user points his/her finger at text and MyEye reads what's just above it; holding up one's hand signals to the device to stop. While the process is not flawless (as some tech reviewers point out) MyEye does a very dependable job restoring one's ability to determine what's in print before the user. Those with dyslexia, and even people suffering from eye fatigue while reading, could also potentially find this device useful.
Even the reading speed of the device is adjustable, allowing visually impaired users to receive up to 300 words per minute, or nearly twice that of those using it at normal speed.
All that said, OK, exactly how much does it cost? It's not readily apparent. To answer that question, a level of investigation is required since you're faced with this statement: "OrCam offers a few options for assistive devices with a range of prices. OrCam MyEye 2 is our most advanced device. Please click through, let us know what you’re interested in, and we’ll get back to you with specifics."
Online reviews of the product put the price at somewhere between $3,500 and $4,500. OrCam, an Israeli company based in Jerusalem, was valued at over $1 billion earlier this year.
While the MyEye is intuitive, adding to its attractiveness as a product, apparently a minor shortcoming is that it lacks an earpiece attachment, which means those in close proximity can also hear the information being provided. But this is just a quibble, considering the massive upside that this device offers.
Yes, the device is pricey, but eyesight is priceless. So if this helps bring the world into better focus for those deprived of adequate vision, the money spent on this breakthrough may be well worth it.