Seeing with your Ears
An artificial vision device for people who are #blind or visually impaired, OrCam MyEye 2.0 #improvesvisionbyusingears.
“Our whole mission is to communicate visual information through audio,” Rafi Fischer, director of media communications at #Israelicompany OrCam, explained. “What OrCam MyEye can do is instantly and discreetly read any printed text from any surface—a newspaper article, a restaurant menu, or a computer screen text.”
The user points at the text he wishes to read, OrCam will instantly read the selected text.
The #wearabledevice is the size of a finger. It can be fixed to almost any pair of glasses. “All you have to do is put it on and wear your glasses, and you are ready to use the device,” Fischer said. It consists of a small head unit with a miniature camera in front, and a speaker by the ear, so that only the user can hear the audio. The camera is equipped with LED lights.
Fischer showed three ways to trigger OrCam MyEye 2.0. First, he made a pointing gesture that showed the machine the text to be read. Converting the text into audio, the device started reading until Fischer interrupted it with another gesture. In the second scenario, the operator just tapped the side of the appliance to activate it. Whenever no text is detected, the device emits a little chime, and it also indicates if the text is upside down. In the last scenario, OrCam MyEye automatically detected the edges of a document held in front of it.
The product demonstration included a #facialrecognition test. OrCam MyEye automatically detected that “a man” had been introduced in the room. It took 15 to 20 seconds for Fischer to enter this new face into the device: “now when he (the colleague) approaches me I hear his name”, Fischer explained. OrCam MyEye learns and remembers people, and recognizes the stored faces.
Because OrCam MyEye communicates with audio, it adapts to a wide range of needs. “Our users typically have different sorts of eye conditions, such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts, also people with severe dyslexia,” Fischer noted. Many of them shared stories with OrCam about how the device had empowered them and increased their independence.
“We are trying to add as many functionalities as possible to the device,” Fischer said. “One of the future things to look for is speech recognition.” This would allow users to ask OrCam questions directly without resorting to any motion.
Shopping is also made easier for OrCam MyEye users. It identifies bar codes and logos that are manually pre-registered. OrCam MyEye also reads local currencies and detects colors. “We built our algorithms to develop this text-to-speech reading to work offline,” Fischer said. “It all happens locally: no privacy issues, no reception issues.” In addition, the text that is read is not recorded.
OrCam MyEye is currently available in twelve languages in over twenty countries, and more are in the pipeline. Each version reads at least two different languages. A small drawback is the limited autonomy of its battery: “Using it constantly, it only lasts about an hour.” The device comes with a USB charger.
Seven to 100-Year-Old Users
“We have many thousands of users at this time,” the OrCam representative said. “The youngest is seven years old and the oldest 100 years old.” All users underwent a two-hour training session to learn to use the product.
How Israel’s Desert Bloomed Into A Hi-Tech Hub
09 May 2018 | ANALYSIS by Catherine Longworth
Israel’s #Ben-GurionUniversity (#BGU) is pioneering a wave of #innovation and economic progress in the Be’er-Sheva desert region. Medtech Insight meets with some of the leaders based at Ben-Gurion’s Advanced Technologies Park where innovation and #technology is developing the region into a world-class #hi-techhub.
#Israel’sfirstprimeminister #DavidBen-Gurion had a vision. The late leader believed Israel’s large Negev desert area held the key to the country’s future growth and that it could bloom into a place of infinite possibility. Although Ben-Gurion died in 1973, today his vision for the desert may be becoming a reality.
Located at the northern edge of the Negev is Be’er Sheva, one of Israel’s fastest growing cities and the heart of Israel’s rising hi-tech hub. The city is home to the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) and a growing number of multinational companies which are forming a strong tech ecosystem.
BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of BGU, is focused on spurring this innovation by commercializing technology coming out of the university to serve market needs. Located in the University’s Advanced Technologies Park, BGN Technologies nurtures relationships between #academia and #industry to bring inventions from the labs to the market.
To date, the company has founded over 100 start-ups across various fields including #medtechcompanies such as cartilage care #start-up CartiHeal, the developer of an implant for repair of articular cartilage and #osteochondraldefects and ElMindA, that has a platform that reveals and affects the #neuralpathways in the #brain.
“We focus on enhancing licensing and research collaborations between academia and the industry, and we always try to be very flexible in our negotiations,” Netta Cohen*, CEO of BGN Technologies told Medtech Insight. “Each agreement we sign is different from one another, as each company has specific conditions and needs. Most of our efforts are based on feedback we receive from the industry. We ask our potential partners what their needs are and try to come up with arrangements that benefit both parties.”
Last year, Xact Medical, a start-up that automates #ultrasound-guided object placement in the body, was established based on a technology that emerged from a multi-year collaboration between BGN and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the US. The goal of the collaboration is to improve health outcomes for children by ensuring device design that is customized to meet children’s’ unique physiology and medical needs. It pairs BGU’s technical and engineering capabilities with the medical expertise of children’s physicians.
Xact Medical focuses on the development of the FIND system – Fast Intelligent Needle Delivery system. FIND extends and enhances clinician capabilities and control for precisely, quickly, and conveniently placing a needle tip at a point in the body that significantly improves odds of successful vascular access on the first try. Xact will initially focus on central line placements in pediatric and adult populations with plans to expand into additional markets such as biopsy. Immediate next steps for the company include further testing its prototype and market research as it works toward FDA approval.
“We are different from the traditional tech transfer model, as regional development is at the heart of everything BGN Technologies does,” Dana Gavish-Fridman, VP of Entrepreneurship at BGN Technologies told Medtech Insight. “The university is a real anchor to all the hi-tech and biotech research activity taking place in the Negev.”