Telling, Not Showing: MyEye a Practical, Novel Approach to Aiding the Blind

OCTOBER 18, 2016
Ryan Black
More a whispering assistant on their shoulder than a new set of eyes, a device by OrCam seems capable of providing the blind a great deal of assistance. In a study conducted at the University of California Davis Eye Center and presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2016 Meeting in Chicago, the novel device showed the breadth of day-to-day tasks it can make easier for those who cannot see.

Comprised of a miniature camera and a small earpiece that can both clip to glasses, the OrCam MyEye is capable of recognizing taught items, ranging from numbers and language to faces, and conveying them to the wearer. The function is activated by the user pointing to an object or text or tapping a trigger on the device.

The UC researchers recruited 12 individuals with worse than 20/200 vision (legally blind) to test the device. After a brief training session, the participants used the OrCam device on a 10 point test that included reading distant signs, emails, menus, pages of books, and newspapers, as well as finding specific phrases within those texts and recognizing denominations of money.

Without the device, the individuals averaged a score of 2.5 out of 10. With the addition of the MyEye in the initial session, that jumped to 9.5. In subsequent testing after one week of use, that number crept up even further, to 9.8.

Novel, simple, and even relatively discreet, the MyEye’s practical mechanism seems capable of making life significantly easier for the tens of millions of people worldwide with limited or no vision. The study, which was selected a “Best Poster” at the AAO meeting and whose authors had no financial relationship with OrCam, called the MyEye “an effective low vision aid that may improve patients’ functionality and independence.”
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