David Key's vision started to decline about five years ago.
He can see objects, people, and text, but not with much clarity. The product he and many other visually-impaired individuals tried Thursday could help significantly.
Bruce Meyers, a sales representative from OrCam, met with people at the Sight Center of Northwest Ohio throughout the day, and introduced them to MyEye. The product consists of a small camera that connects to the frame of almost any pair of standard glasses. The device can convert full pages of text, colors, and bar codes into spoken word, and even identifies dollar amounts on paper money.
“I’d probably use it for the computer because I can’t read the screen,” Mr. Key, of Toledo, said. “I was in school and had to drop out because I couldn’t read it.”
Mr. Key was working to obtain a master's degree in counseling. He dropped out when his vision worsened.
He said this device could enable him to return to school.
“It seemed to be something that could help,” Mr. Key said. “I can blow things up on my phone, but it's still pretty difficult because you have to keep scrolling when it's too big for the screen.”
The small attachment is fairly discrete and connects to the frame, which is attached to a small controller — about the size of a cell phone — with a cord. The person wearing the device can hold up a book, menu, or anything else with standard type face, and the attachment will take a picture of it.
Words appearing on the page are then recited. MyEye comes with a headphone jack, and the volume can be adjusted. The voice can even be switched to resemble that of a British man.
Mr. Meyers said the product has been on the market for about two years.
“There's nothing like this,” he said. “There are some things that are similar and have certain aspects of it, but ours is the only one that combines all the features and is a lightweight portable mounted device.”
MyEye also recognize faces and can store up to 100 identifications at a time. At the grocery store, shoppers can scan a bar code to make sure they picked up the right product. MyEye recognizes bar codes on 700,000 products.
“When people first put them on, a lot of people tell me after a few seconds their heart is pounding,” Mr. Meyers said. “They see things they haven't been able to see or read for years, and it's reading to them.”
The MyEye sells for $3,500 and includes a payment plan option. A similar product that only reads text is available for $2,500.