Messi’s Dream Team: OrCam’s partnership with the football icon

OT  caught up with OrCam’s UK opticians’ sales manager, Jennifer Kerfoot to find out about the company’s latest campaign with Lionel Messi

OrCam reading

Could you tell us what led to the partnership with Lionel Messi and how this was established?

Jennifer Kerfoot, UK opticians’ sales manager for OrCam (JK): Our goal was to show the world how our technology can help the blind community, and we were looking for someone who was a globally respected figure, demonstrates absolute motivation and drive, and is known throughout the world. Lionel Messi met those requirements and we approached him through his representatives.

What was it that made Lionel Messi the perfect partner?

JK: Lionel Messi is a symbol for maximising personal potential and overcoming physical barriers and now, he’s helping others of a different background do the same.

Until now, Messi has been known for promoting mainstream consumer items, such as soft drinks and clothes. As a global ambassador for OrCam, Messi is representing an assistive technology with a life-changing societal impact.

What does it mean to be in the OrCam Dream Team?

JK: Messi’s Dream Team is comprised of exceptional and visually impaired superstars from around the world. They all share one thing in common with Messi – the drive to achieve excellence through maximising their potential, no matter what challenges they may face.

By creating the Dream Team, Messi wants to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the blind and visually impaired community globally.

Young boy
Mikey Poulli, a member of Messi’s Dream Team, based in the UK.

How many people have been supported through the partnership and OrCam’s Dream Team?

JK: With more to follow, there are 12 Dream Team members, from the UK, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain, Germany, US, Israel, Japan and France.

What do you hope will be achieved from this partnership?

JK: OrCam is partnering with Messi to increase awareness of the challenges faced by the blind and visually impaired community globally, and to also raise awareness of how the OrCam MyEye solutions can empower them in daily life; whether work, studies, or daily activities inside and outside of the home environment.

On a wider note, could you tell us how COVID-19 impacted OrCam?

JK: Like most companies, we have increased our online presence to raise awareness of our products. We have continued to set up online demonstrations and meetings with distributors of OrCam’s products abroad to make sure sales activities continue. The company had the foresight to increase the stock held abroad by distributors as soon as we realised flights may be closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

What will the next few months look like for OrCam and the MyEye device? Are there any developments or plans that readers should know about?

JK: OrCam Technologies recently made its interactive Smart Reading feature available for OrCam MyEye devices in the UK.

The feature is the first of a new, interactive AI feature class that OrCam is integrating with its assistive technologies. The Smart Reading feature enables users who are blind, visually impaired, or have reading challenges, including dyslexia, to tailor the assistive reading experience to their specific requirements.

Smart Reading combines OrCam's advanced computer vision and natural language understanding (NLU) technologies to operate as a ‘voice-activated assistant’ to make any text – whether in print or digital formats – more accessible to the reader when using OrCam’s text-to-speech reading engine. Activated by the user’s voice, the algorithms driving the Smart Reading feature listen to, and comprehend, the user’s requests, retrieving the relevant information, and reading the requested text to the user within a few seconds. The feature can be integrated with both the OrCam MyEye and OrCam Read devices.

A second OrCam development of note is the introduction of OrCam Read, the first-of-its-kind handheld digital reader, which empowers people with language processing challenges, including dyslexia. Using OrCam’s computer vision technology, OrCam Read is the only personal AI reader to instantly capture and read out loud full pages of text and digital screens. The device features intuitive point-and-click operation, which activates two precision laser guidance options, to read the entire highlighted text or target where to begin reading.

OrCam is looking to partner with optometrists throughout the UK to demonstrate our OrCam Read device to patients who can no longer be supported by prescription glasses but would benefit from a smart reading device.

As an optical professional, could you share your reflections on how the industry has been impacted, or responded, to the challenges of the past few months?

JK: It has been a challenging few months, and it has greatly impacted the optical High Street market. Currently, we have found that many patients are continuing to shield, or are ‘non-essential’ customers, which can mean less people through the doors.

However, there have been many new adaptations to the way in which we work. It has been great to see practices focusing on eye health and the prevention of vision loss in a time where healthcare is a priority. As a whole I feel everyone within the optical sector has acted professionally and as an industry we can hopefully grow in this new ‘normal.’