Technology 2 min read

New AI-Powered Glasses Could Help Visually Impaired People

Image screen-grabbed from Envision YouTube video

Image screen-grabbed from Envision YouTube video

A company from the Netherlands is teaming up with Google to create a pair of AI-powered glasses for the blind and visually-impaired.

Google originally intended Glass to become a regular part of people’s daily lives. Although that never happened, the wearable device continued to endure.

Today, the device exists as Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, designed for more specialized conditions, Google hoped that partners would build a suitable software for the hardware, and use it for cases like manufacturing and healthcare.

Well, a Dutch startup has recently done that.

Envision has successfully added OCR image recognition software to Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. That way, the wearable could function as a dedicated assistive device for the visually impaired.

So, how does it work?

Developing AI-Powered Glasses For the Visually Impaired

Envision’s software uses artificial intelligence to extract various information from images. Then, it speaks the picture out loud to help users gain a better understanding of their environment.

The Hague-based company claims that the software is the fastest and most accurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) available. As such, it can read any text from over 60 languages scrawled on any surface.

Aside from reading texts, AI-powered glasses can also analyze faces to identify friends and families. Also, it could describe the immediate surroundings, such as street hazards or train signs.

Expectedly, this presents some exciting applications.

For example, a blind wearer could use the glasses to read a recipe from a cookery book. What’s more, the technology will enable such individuals to get to the grocery store to purchase the necessary ingredients independently.

In a statement, one of Envision’s AI-powered glasses beta testers, Joy said:

“This kind of freedom is very invaluable, especially when you’re outside and have a cane or a guide dog in hand already. This is a game-changer for me and my independence.”

Pre-orders for the smart glasses cost about $1,700. Meanwhile, they’ll retail for $2,100 when shipping begins in August this year.

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), 29 percent of the global population is visually impaired. That’s about 253 million people.

The high price tag of the glasses will make the technology inaccessible to a large number of the people that need it. However, it could dramatically improve the independence of those who can afford it.

Read More: Facebook Working On Smart Glasses with Ray-Ban

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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