Israeli start-up gives sight to visually impaired

The OrCam (Photo: OrCam)

The OrCam (Photo: OrCam)

An Israeli start-up is set to give the gift of sight to the visually impaired with its new device, the OrCam.

The OrCam is a small camera that can be attached to glasses which, when pointed at books, objects and faces, can read or describe them aloud. The $2,500 reading aid went on sale in the US this week and its first shipment has already sold out.

The company was founded by Israeli academic Amnon Shashua, Sachs professor of computer science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He developed the device along with other faculty members and graduates.

The OrCam is operated by hand gestures: point to read something, or to teach it something new, wave your hand or shake it. The message is read aloud and uses bone conduction technology, with the earpiece placed against the cheek, so can be used with a hearing aid.

Unlike other reading aids, it can recognise traffic signals, people and objects, and can read text on flexible surfaces such as newspapers.

Last updated: 12:30pm, June 14 2013