This ‘artificial vision’ device aims to help the visually impaired accomplish daily tasks
Picture credit: Orcam My Eye
A newly developed ‘artificial vision’ wearable technology device aims to help the almost 250 million people suffering from low vision globally achieve everday tasks with more ease than using traditional assistive reading devices, according to a study presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
The Orcam My Eye is a hands-free device that can be clipped to eyeglasses. It features a miniature camera that sees and recognises what the user is viewing, and then reads what it is seeing to the user through a small bone-conduction earpiece. The device is activated by simply pointing a finger to the object or text, tapping it or pressing a trigger button.
Orcam My Eye aims to be more portable than the more traditional optical and electronic assistive reading devices such as hand-held magnifiers, tele-microscopic glasses and computer and video magnifiers, which are usually bulky and troublesome. Yet with recent advancements in wearable electronic devices and optical character recognition technology that converts images to computer-readable text, University of California, Davis (U.C. Davis) researchers hypothesized that these newer technologies could help improve patients' ability to function in daily life.
To test their theory, they asked a group of 12 visually impaired patients to use the Orcam My Eye to see its impact, and later found that it vastly improved patients' daily productivity. These legally blind people had a visual acuity of less than 20 out of 200.
The findings from the hypothesis were noteworthy. Before wearing the Orcam My Eye, the participants’ average score was 2.5 out of 10. But when they first tried the device, their average score improved to 9.5, which gradually improved to 9.8 after a week of wearing.
“While there have been many advances in eye care, the options for assistance in completing daily tasks are limited and cumbersome,” said Elad Moisseiev, M.D., a viteoretinal surgeon now working in Tel Aviv who was previously the study lead at U.C. Davis. “This represents a new step in the evolution of assistance devices for people with low vision, giving them hope for improving their functionality, independence and quality of life.”
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