New glasses allow the blind to read and recognise faces

Fabio Rodríguez shows how the glasses work.
Fabio Rodríguez shows how the glasses work. / PEDRO J. QUERO
  • The spectacles, launched in Malaga, are called 'OrCam MyEye'; they tell users the text, objects and faces that are in front of them, but comes with a price tag of 4,500 euros

The simplest actions, such as voting in the recent elections without needing help with the ballot paper, are now possible for blind people or those with poor vision. "We have users who tell us that this year they have been able to do this independently without help," said Fabio Rodríquez, spokesperson for OrCam, an Israeli technology company that has developed 'MyEye' and which recently launched in Malaga.

The equipment is small and light, and is connected to the arm of a pair of conventional glasses. Thanks to the application of artificial intelligence, it gives more independence to blind people. "They no longer have to depend on anybody to order in a restaurant, for example," the company explained. The reading of texts such as newspapers, computers, text messages and labels is only one of the uses. In addition to these, it is able to recognise the faces of up to one hundred people who are regularly around the user.

Another use is the identification of objects, such as medication and products in the supermarket, or to differentiate between different amounts of money.

The equipment is the size of a pen-drive and is made up of a 13 megapixel camera, two LEDs for light, a speaker, a microphone and magnets to connect it to the glasses. The technology is activated by the user pointing out with their finger what it wants to identify, and it can be rewound if something is not understood well.

Fabio Rodríguez assures us that the system is not connected to the internet and that "all of what the glasses read self destructs," in order to maintain the privacy of the user, so it is safe for bank paperwork, for example.

Currently, the main problem is the price: 'MyEye' costs 4,500 euros. The glasses are only available in Malaga's Roca opticians and already there are many local people using them in their daily lives. In Spain, there are still no state subsidies for these types of technological advances, as in other European countries