The flow of innovation
OrCam’s international business development manager, Leon Paull, speaks to OT about creating an unobtrusive and discrete solution for people living with visual impairment
Can you tell OT three interesting facts about OrCam?
- OrCam was founded by the same two people who founded Mobileye – Professor Amnon Shashua and Mr Ziv Aviram – the world leader in artificial vision used in a collision avoidance system in over 22 million cars
- The OrCam MyEye 2.0 device can be easily and effectively used by anyone, regardless of their eye condition
- Prince William (pictured below) tried out OrCam MyEye 2.0 on his recent visit to Israel and reacted: “Absolutely incredible. That will help many people I am sure. What brilliant tech.”
What are the company’s main ambitions for the next 12 months?
We will continue to release additional capabilities for OrCam MyEye 2.0. One of the upcoming features will be speech recognition, enabling users to tell the device what they want it to do as well as using the touch bar commands. We are also developing a presence in additional countries, such as China and Japan, and will continue to build up awareness of OrCam MyEye in our established markets.
It is our hope that more and more of our customers obtain OrCam MyEye 2.0 through funding mechanisms such as health insurance and government subsidies. Currently, in the UK there is funding for OrCam devices available to people in employment through the Access to Work scheme and for students through the Disabled Students Allowance. However, the majority of visually impaired people in the UK aren’t eligible for either of these programmes so they have few options for financial assistance.
Assistive technology for low vision is becoming one of the fastest growing areas in optics today
Looking at how technology is evolving and impacting on optics, what are your predictions for the market?
There is a growing trend of wearables in the marketplace which address visual and reading impairments. However, many of these products are very expensive, suited to a limited set of eye conditions, or simply too large and obtrusive to be used by people outside of the home.
What are the current challenges that you feel optics is facing and why?
Opticians and optical professionals are looking for solutions to provide to the growing number of visually impaired people. As the population ages, the number of people suffering from sight loss, but with disposable income, increases. As a result, assistive technology for low vision is becoming one of the fastest growing areas in optics today. We are seeing more and more opticians adopting OrCam MyEye 2.0 as a cornerstone to expanding their business into low vision.
From your market research, what are customers looking for in wearable assistive technology?
When we set out to develop OrCam MyEye 2.0, we interviewed hundreds of blind and visually impaired people, and we continue to listen carefully to our customers. It became clear to us very early on that customers are looking for wearables that are unobtrusive, discreet and do not draw attention to their sight condition.
With this as one of the guiding insights for the development of OrCam MyEye 2.0, we understood that the device has to be as small as possible and we succeeded in miniaturising the sophisticated artificial intelligence technology into an absolutely tiny device which enables a visually impaired person to read any printed or digital text, recognise faces, barcodes and much more, in real time.
OrCam MyEye 2.0 does all of this without requiring an internet connection, with no data privacy concerns, and with enough battery power to get users through the day.
What training or support are you offering to practitioners?
We have a team of OrCam experts around the UK who provide initial training on the device and ongoing support to our partners.
Are there any exciting innovations or activity going on at the company that you can share with OT?
We have a team of more than 150 people in research and development, who ensure that there will be an exciting flow of innovation. We are very focused on adding some key new capabilities to OrCam MyEye 2.0, such as speech recognition and translation.