OrCam Experience

OrcamLast week I experienced OrCam for the first time at the Macular Group meeting which takes place on the last Thursday of every month at Wiltshire Sight’s St Lucy’s Sight Centre. I don’t have a macular eye condition but wanted to see OrCam after hearing about it several times over the last year.

OrCam is a wearable smart camera that can read text and recognise face. It is beneficial for people who are visually impaired. It was an incredible experience and felt like something out of a futuristic film. I wore the OrCam glasses with the camera attached (although you can attach it to any glasses) and adjusted the volume and other controls using a small plastic box. The box was connected to the camera with a black wire which ran behind my ear and down my side. It wasn’t heavy at all, it felt just like wearing a regular pair of glasses. I could use the buttons on the control box to ‘tell’ the camera to take a picture of the text and then read it. The other option, which was amazing, was that by pointing at the text I wanted read, and then removing my finger, OrCam read out the text to me. If I wanted OrCam to stop reading, I had to hold my hand up in a ‘stop’ signal and it stopped. It felt very modern and I could imagine many scenarios where it would be useful. A few examples of these include, shopping where the shelf labels are too small, reading cooking instructions on packets, reading parts of children’s book where the writing is too small or dark, allowing independence for reading personal letters such as hospital results, train times on station information boards.

Another unique feature for OrCam is that it can provide facial recognition, something many people with visual impairments find challenging. I have never seen anything that does this before – it was incredible how OrCam recognised the trainer and spoke his name.

It is only when you experience OrCam and then start thinking about the ways in which it would benefit you, that you realise its potential. Due to its advanced technological features, it is rather expensive but the fact that it enables individuals in many aspects of life make it a very worthwhile aid.

This article was written by Melissa Sansum.

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