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Wearable computer gives visually impaired a way to read

Friday, July 26, 2013 - 02:15

July 29 - A new device called OrCam could be life changing for the visually impaired. The tiny wearable computer uses audio feedback to relay visual information that they can not see, enabling them to take on new tasks they were unable to perform alone before. Sharon Reich has more.

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STORY: By just pointing her finger at the light in the crosswalk - a computerized voice tells this woman what she is unable to see. The voice is coming from a tiny wearable computer that is attached to the frame of her eyeglasses. It's called OrCam. And when she points at something, the computer is able to understand what information she is looking for, and relays auditory feedback through an earpiece. Using a 5 mega pixel camera, the device can read text and recognize faces and objects as the start-up company's co-founder Amnon Shashua explains. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AMNON SHASHUA, CO-FOUNDER, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER, AT ORCAM, SAYING: "The purpose of this system is to emulate a helper. Imagine someone standing beside you, looking at the same direction you are looking at understands what you are looking at, understands what information you want to get out of the scene and simply whispers in your ear that particular information." OrCam works for up to six hours before being charged. It is based on a computer vision algorithm called 'Share Boost,' which researcher Yonatan Wexler says has improved artificial intelligence. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DOCTOR YONATAN WEXLER, VICE PRESIDENT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AT ORCAM, SAYING: "One of the hard things about visual perception is the huge amount of information, an algorithm that has to define a bus for example in a picture, has to look through millions of pixels to find that bus so we developed an algorithm called share boost that does this very efficiently and it does it so efficiently that we can fit it in a small device that can fit in your pocket and you can take it with you all day so the user can stand in a city scape and look around and the device will find the bus among all the pixels in that picture and all the pixels throughout the day that the user is walking around and this is what's unique about our technology." One of the benefits of OrCam is that it has a memory system that stores the objects it recognizes and continually adds to the users library. Researchers say there are still a few kinks to iron out - most importantly the device's sensitivity to light and surfaces that are not flat. The device will go on sale in the U.S. in September and will retail at $2,500 (USD).

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Wearable computer gives visually impaired a way to read

Friday, July 26, 2013 - 02:15