The Orcam MyEye 2.0 provides text-to-speech visual assistance for those who are visually impaired, partially sighted, blind, or have print, colour, dyslexia or other disabilities.
In its simplest form, it is a device that clips onto most standard pairs of glasses or sunglasses. It identifies text and speaks the word to you.
The world still uses text-based signage, street and warning signs, money, colours, supermarket barcodes, instructions on food packets and so much more. Orcam MyEye 2.0 is a dedicated text-to-speech processor that may make vision impaired users lives easier.
GadgetGuy was given a review unit to test out. I wish I could say this was an in-depth test but as a sighted person it is a little hard to imagine the world without it. As such our review paradigm was to try it in several situations like reading a new paper, identifying street and building signs, currency, food packet names and instructions.
Australian Distributors Quantum RLV (Reading/Learning/Vision) have a 30-year history of helping the sight impaired. It works closely with blindness agencies, ophthalmologists, optometrists, occupational therapists, teachers, parents and students and is an approved supplier to DVA and NDIS.
Out of the box
The Orcam MyEye 2.0
A pair of ‘dummy glasses with a magnetic side clip
Spare mount clips (more are available at extra cost)
Leather carry case and lanyard to secure the Orcam should it come unclipped
USB 5V/1A charger and a flat rubberised USB-C to Micro-USB change/update cable
The first thing I learned is that sighted people take sight for granted. I opened the box, read the instructions, clipped it to a pair of glasses and felt ready to use it. Wrong.
While that sounds simple, it is best to have a sighted trainer to help you set it up. My initial results were nowhere near what the trainer achieved in our initial demonstration.
Orcam MyEye 2.0 specifications
The Orcam MyEye 2.0 is the latest version and is totally cable free. All the electronics are in the svelte, discrete unit. It measures 76.2mm x 20 x 12mm x 22g. The battery lasts about two hours and charging (we did this once) was about 40 minutes at 5V/1A. A 2A charger may have cut that time again. Orcam will announce the charge level left.
The front houses a small lens and two small LED lights for low light use. The rear has a microphone, micro-USB port and a power button.
The table below gives the best overview of its capabilities.
Orcam is ready!
Again, remember that we have not had the benefit of training – it was to use a bad pun the blind leading the blind. And guess what – it read the above sentence perfectly once we learned gestures.
Orcam recognised text via a pointing gesture. When the camera sees your fingertip pointing to an area, it reads the text indicated from left to right and then down to the next line etc.
Once you point, you hear a double chime and then a slight camera shutter. It then starts within a second or so and reads it to you. The trick is to get the gesture right, so it knows what block or text you want to read.
The female voice is monotone, and there is no real emotion – just a very competent reading. Errors were few, and it did announce if some blocks of text were unreadable. It does not announce punctuation like commas, brackets etc, but it does pause at commas and fullstops.
We tested a computer screen at 60cm, a newspaper, and a novel. Can’t fault it.
We also tried with the Automatic page recognition feature enabled, and it was excellent. Well with one exception. On a Word document on a computer, it read the entire ‘ribbon menu’ at the top. You can also use the touch bar to read a full page.
Stop gesture is handy – just cover the text with your hand
Time gesture will read the time without needing a watch on your wrist
We did not try multi-lingual, but it supports a range of traditional Latin-based (English) characters) The current Australian/New Zealand version has Australian accented voices only, but other language versions are available and you will be able to add specific languages in the future. When more than one languages are available, the device will automatically switch voices according to the language printed.
Face recognition was great. First look at the face and touch the touch bar. Next, give it the person name. It can also tell you the approximate age and gender.
We took a trip to Woolworths and looked at the barcodes on the food and the price strip on the front. It identified about half the pre-packaged items scanned. It did not recognise bulk items or price bar items like fruit or vegetables. However, it did recognise the words. You can ask it to learn a product via identifying a ‘box’ side.
Australian banknotes were 100% accurate. It can add other currencies
Colour recognition is limited and a little hit and miss due to the colour temperature of the ambient lighting present
Street and building signs often took a few attempts but were generally accurate to about 2 metres. House numbers were better at a metre.
Restaurant menus and closer display signage – a breeze! You are not going to accidentally order monkey brains.
OrCam MyEye 2.0 will store and recognise up to a total of 150 objects, from credit cards, pantry items, household items, and other objects from the size of a pack of playing cards to a box of cereal.
GadgetGuy’s take – opens a whole new chapter
First, let me apologise if I have in any way insulted vision impaired people. Just trying to use Orcam made me realise how traumatic the partial or full loss of sight is.
I understand that the cost is around $7,000. Well, a set of discrete hearing aids can cost even more, so its price is fair to return a good ability to read text.
I am not an expert here – it was ambitious to review this device. But I can see how it would be an immense help to a vision impaired person. Another use is for dyslectics that visually mix up letters – just having the speech function would be a major help to reading in this text-based world.
And I can say that it is way better than trying to use a magnifier or computer text-speech reader.
I won’t rate it as it is a unique product designed for a specific type of user. What I will say is that it is well built, easy to use, and with some training and acclimatisation this product meets or exceeds all the stated functions.
GadgetGuy has a recent article on tech to overcome impairments here.