Neighbor sets her sights on helping others
The OrCam device lets users with sight difficulty enjoy reading a newspaper independently.
OrCam translates the words on the pages of a book by audibly speaking them to the reader.
Article and photos by Adriana Hakes
Low vision and blindness affect more than 108,000 Coloradans, a number which is growing yearly with our aging population. While there are many conditions that lead to vision loss, the leading cause among Americans age 65 and older is AMD, or age-related macular degeneration. It is an eye disease that eventually causes vision loss in the center of a person’s field of vision.
Castle Pines North resident Glynn Ross knows all too well the impacts to individuals and their families when vision loss occurs. When her father Jack Ross suffered from macular degeneration at the age of 82, he had to give up driving and living on his own was not possible. He could no longer read a book or a newspaper. Even reading bills and mail became difficult and his life became depressing.
Jack now had to rely on assistance from his partner and family for many things he had previously done independently. With the help of his daughter Glynn, they searched for devices and technology that might help him; together they found OrCam. After five years in development, OrCam was released in the United States in June of this year, and Glynn is now a sales consultant and trainer for the company.
“We looked for a device that could help my dad to be able to read. Hand held magnifiers were just too small; even the big clunky CCTV he purchased wasn’t very practical as it wasn’t portable.” OrCam promised something different: a small, lightweight, discrete wearable device that would read out loud any printed text, and would even recognize packages, as well as faces.
Fitting in your pocket, OrCam is a less bulky alternative to assistance devices of the past.
Simply put, the OrCam camera attaches to the arm of the reader’s glasses and uses text-to-speech technology to interpret what the camera captures. After a wearer uses a pointing gesture to indicate to the camera where to focus, a picture is taken. Then, in real time, the user hears the text being read to them via a tiny speaker.
“When my father received his OrCam device and began using it, his first words were, ‘My dreams have come true.’ My father can now tell junk mail from bills and checks, and he uses his device to help him identify his friends in his retirement community. It even helps him when he goes shopping,” smiled Glynn.
Along with relieving some of the burden put on a spouse or family, OrCam gives users back the enjoyment and independence of being able to read on their own. “I just checked in with a client to see how he was doing,” stated Glynn, “and his reply was, ‘I just spent a wonderful morning reading the paper’.”
To see OrCam in action, check out: http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2015/07/17/orcam-smart-glasses-for-blind.cnnmoney/index.html. To learn more about OrCam or if it is right for you or a loved one, call Glynn Ross 720-893-0593 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.