Back in 2014, Google put a wearable device called Google Glass on the commercial market. Google Glass was meant to give users a hands-free way to view content, make calls, and access social media platforms, all while carrying on with whatever tasks they had on hand. The Google Glass technology was a retail failure and disappeared from the market after a short stint, however, it seems to have found a new purpose as the basis for a set of glasses designed to help the blind.
The newest form of these glasses is called Envision Glasses, and they use AI to let their wearer “see” by telling them (verbally) what they are looking at. The Envision Glasses, which run most independently after being initially paired with an iOS/Android smartphone app, debuted recently at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference.
The user starts off by finger-swiping the right-hand arm of the glasses to select a mode. The user is guided by synthetic speech feedback from the integrated speaker equipped with over 60 languages, and once a mode is selected, the user double-taps the arm to record an image, which is then processed by the system’s AI-based algorithms.
The user can select a mode that simply gets the glasses to instantly read and speak short pieces of text like street signs, or the glasses can be made to scan longer pieces of text such as book pages, which it then speaks out whenever the user desires. There is also another mode that makes an assistive video call, in which case the other (sighted) person can verbally guide the user by viewing a real-time feed from the user’s glasses.
What makes this newest edition of the Envision Glasses so impressive, is that the glasses can also describe the general scene in front of the wearer. This means that the glasses can identify different colors (which is especially useful for doing tasks like laundry or purchasing clothes), or search for a specific person or object, sending out a beeping signal when the person or object is in front of the 9-megapixel camera.
The Envision Glasses are also water-resistant, can run for four to five hours per charge, and are currently on the market. Check out the Envision site here if you, or someone you know, are interested in giving this cutting-edge technology a try!
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