CHICAGO (CBS) — A new device is changing the lives of people with vision problems.
As CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reported Monday, the device amounts to eyeglasses that can read text and talk to you.
The OrCam MyEye 2 won’t give or repair vision. It is a second set of eyes.
A tiny camera attaches to eyeglasses, and text and visual images are transformed into sound. When users wear it, only they can hear it.
We asked for a demonstration so we can all hear it too.
As Aliza Olenick or OrCam Technologies explained, you can raise your index finger and tell the machine you want it to read to you. If you put out your palm, it will stop, and you can raise your wrist if you want it to tell time.
And not only does the MyEye 2 read written words aloud – it also reads faces, and allows users to record a name to go with them.
Andre Asbury calls MyEye 2 a game-changer.
“I’m gradually losing my vision,” he said.
Asbury works at the Chicago Lighthouse, a nonprofit serving the blind and visually impaired. He is one of several employees in a successful that put MyEye 2 to the test.
But for Asbury, it’s also personal.
“I have a daughter. She’s visually impaired like me,” he said. “I let her try on the OrCam, and she’s just blown away by it. And when she’s happy, I’m happy.”
Asbury’s colleague, Rick Sullivan, said the MyEye 2 has rebuilt his confidence.
“It’s a lot faster to get through documents that used to take me a lot longer to get through, so more productive and faster at my job,” Sullivan said. “This helps me contribute, and that’s what I want to do.”
But assistive technology can be expensive. The Chicago Lighthouse is on a mission to convince the government and insurance companies to cover such devices as the MyEye 2 that keep people working.
“Assistive technologies are critical to productivity in the workplace,” said Chicago Lighthouse assistant tech manager Patrick Andrade. “It’s not about equality. It’s about equity.”
Without financial assistance, the OrCam MyEye 2 can run around $4,000. But the users we met said the independence it gives them is priceless – as they can shop, travel, go to restaurants, and more on their own.
But it’s important to note that the device totally respects privacy. The facial recognition cannot be downloaded to the internet.