By Jeanette Schmoyer
What is OrCam? “OrCam MyReader helps people who are visually impaired, blind, or have reading difficulties to read text.”
“OrCam MyEye, the most advanced wearable assistive technology, provides independence by allowing access to visual information, conveyed by audio, on a tiny camera which can be attached to any pair of eyeglasses. Using Artificial Intelligence it reads text, recognizes faces, identifies colors, paper currency, and products. OrCam can tell you the time and date.”
Now, some information about me. I live in an apartment building in a continuing care community. There are 120 apartments in our building, and we have a Café and a dining room where we meet and mingle with other residents. Of course, we residents pass one another in the hallways and meet in the lobby where our internal and US postal mailboxes are located.
There are many residents who have lived here for up to 15 years, when this building was built. I can recognize many voices of residents who I have known for my thirteen years in this building, but often someone will pass me in the hall and say, “Hi Jeanette” and continue on their way without my knowing who they were.
When I heard about the facial recognition capability of OrCam, I became interested. The fact that the OrCam product fits on the arm of a pair of glasses attracted me since it would do its work without my needing to carry anything. The OrCam has a speaker built into it and has Bluetooth capability.
I was able to see the OrCam demonstrated when I invited Dr. Georgia Crozier, a low vision optometrist, to speak at the low vision group I lead here in our community. Our group, called Vision Education and Support, provides practical information and emotional support for residents with vision loss.
When I asked the demonstrator at the OrCam table to show me what it can do, the OrCam was set up to recognize my husband and it said his name when I approached him wearing the product on their pair of demonstration glasses. Later, when I asked OrCam, “What is in front of me?” I heard, “There is a door in front of you.”
In addition to wanting the information about who is passing me in the hall, I want a product that will tell me if there is an obstacle in front of me. My hope is that I will learn to use the OrCam so that it will serve me for both purposes.
I ordered the OrCam MyEye that day of my low vision meeting. The vendor/trainer came to my apartment several days later. She spent three hours with me telling me what the OrCam can do. She seemed to be learning as she proceeded to read the manual as she explained the product to me. She held the device and gave me information. A good trainer would have put the product in my hand to let me practice the various capabilities of the OrCam. I regret not insisting that she do that.
So, I have been learning on my own. I have taken pictures of two people for my OrCam to recognize, but I have a long way to go to get enough people recorded. I have used the OrCam to read a menu. I find that the device is very sensitive to touch and may do something I did not intend. For example, when I wanted OrCam to read text, I ended up raising the volume as soon as I touched the device. I am determined to continue to read the various instructions to successfully take pictures of people, to read menus and bar codes. As the company adds new objects for OrCam to recognize, I will get updated through our Wi Fi connection, I will get more information about what is in front of me. As time passes, I hope my ability to use OrCam MyEye will become proficient and extremely helpful.