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I was tired after 9 hours from multiple projects and the devastating stroke when, pre-coronavirus pandemic, I went to a famous vegetarian restaurant with a person I was going to interview, which also served vegans (of which I am one). I was told they had excellent food (first-rate grub is not at all uncommon for Portland) and we were seated when the server handed us the menus. 

My anxiety kicked in when I saw the printed menu. Though the lighting wasn’t dim, the items were too small to read and my double vision went off from fatigue, both of which made for impossible reading. 


It was a small place, and I could have asked him to read the menu to me, but it was embarrassing and awkward. I closed the menu as if I read it, and so did my interviewee, motioned the waiter that we were ready to order, and asked the server instead, “I’ll have that dish with tofu,” upon which, being confused about which dish I meant, he rattled off several dishes with tofu, and I chose one.


Almost the actual size 

Enter OrCam Read (albeit six months later), the magnificent marvel which is five inched long, less than an inch wide, who reads anything to you from the printed page. It is totally portable, and you could zero in to only part of the document, like for a newspaper or read the whole page of a book. I got one on a loan to write this blog post because my heart is with stroke and other brain injury survivors whose after-effects, except for the lucky ones, include visual deficits. 

The two founders are: Prof. Amnon Shashua holds the Sachs chair in computer science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his field of expertise is computer vision and machine learning, and Ziv Aviram who holds a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering and Management from Ben-Gurion University. They both have a healthy history in safer ways to observe the environment, and that led to OrCam Read


Impressive indeed. But I wanted more. I sometimes, to this day, have double vision. 


The instructions say, “OrCam Read is a personal AI [Artificial Intelligence] -driven device for people who have mild or low vision, reading difficulties, including dyslexia and reading fatigue, and anyone who is consistently exposed to large amounts of text – at work or school, or for leisure.”


Aside from the restaurant where I would have used OrCam Read, it doesn’t need WiFi so no disruptions for pilots on airplanes or captains on ships. One could even use it to read books for enjoyment or serious stuff like final exams. The battery in constant use lasts about four hours.


Not only does OrCam Read have screen selection, but there’s a laser pointer, too, if you want people to read a chart or bullet points during a presentation. 


OrCam Read features:
• 13-megapixel camera in front
• Built-in speaker
• Only 4 buttons
Power
Trigger
Plus – increases volume or rate of speech
Minus – decreases volume or rate of speech
• Bluetooth connectivity

Functionality:
2 reading options
Capture a block of text with a box-shaped laser beam
Choose where to start reading with an arrow-shaped laser beam
• No need to scan text or follow a line, all you have to do is hold the device in front of the text, push a button, and the text is read aloud instantly
• No internet connectivity is required and there is no connectivity to the cloud

Warranty:
1 year warranty

Oded Tsin, the Business Development Manager for OrCam, said, “Once you press the trigger button, the first button next to the +, the laser guidance will appear. You can keep holding the trigger button and aim toward the script. Once you will release it, the device will capture the image and read to you. 


“If you want to switch between the two laser options, you will double click the trigger button same way you double click a computer mouse.” 

So OrCam Read couldn’t be easier. I tried it a bunch of times with the loaner. I used it to read a book for an hour and it took the stress of double vision out of the mix. I used OrCam Read to read a printed newsletter from Stroke Awareness Oregon and it did a perfect job. I even used OrCam Read to read an invitation to a baby shower! It’s a sure bet that it will work every time. 

Now for the cost for which you can pay it out according to your needs: $1990 and it’s not covered by any type of insurance (though it ought to be). Perhaps your organization can buy OrCam Read to share among those with visual deficits.

I want to thank Oded Tsin and also Chris Braswell, Area Sales Manager with OrCam, for letting me try the OrCam Read device.

For more information about OrCam Read, please click here and enter your contact information:  


Post-note: In case you were wondering, I received no compensation for promoting OrCam Read. So why OrCam Read? I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to helping stroke and other brain injury survivors and, with many having visual deficits, they’re among the ones that will benefit the most from this extraordinary device. Now you have the answer…in case you were wondering.  

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman is one of the world's top 10 stroke bloggers according to the Medical News Today. You can find the original post and other blogs Joyce wrote in Tales of a Stroke Survivor. (https://talesofastrokesurvivor.blog)
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