Monday, June 15, 2015

Educate and Entertain Yourself with Great Resources from the AFB!

The American Foundation for the Blind is a fantastic organization striving to bring equality for those with a visual impairment and has been doing great work since 1921. That's why when we were recently alerted to their blog we had to check it out, and we were not disappointed. Featuring fantastic articles on topics ranging from getting to grips with the new iWatch from Apple, to anecdotes and stories about Helen Keller, the AFB Blog is a highly recommended resource and we would encourage you to check it out here 

And for those of you who love to keep up to date on the latest technology (hopefully that covers most of the people who read our blog!) don't forget about the AFB's AccessWorld magazine, a free online magazine published monthly and covering news and reviews on the latest and greatest technology out there, as well as articles on low vision and blindness news from around the world. Check it out here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Vario Ultra - A Braille Display for the Modern Age!

We have finally had a chance to make a video demonstration of the Vario Ultra Braille display, and this little guy is definitely a good tool to have around for the modern girl or guy. Featuring a sleek aluminum body, ergonomic design, excellent feeling Braille cells (available as either a 20 or 40 cell setup) and the ability to connect to 5 devices simultaneously, this Braille display hits all the right buttons. 

Check out our video review to find out for yourself what this Display is all about!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Orcam Brings Facial Recognition and Exceptional OCR to the Game

The Orcam has been in pre-release in the USA for a few months and we have had the chance to try it out, and we are liking what we see. For those of you who haven't seen the promotional video (see it below) the Orcam is a wearable camera which attaches to the side of a pair of glasses and can perform OCR to read aloud whatever text the wearer is looking at. In addition the Orcam offers additional features such as facial recognition whereby, once you have stored a person in its memory, it will recognize that persons face when it sees them and tell you who you are looking at. It is also possible to store products into the Orcam's database so when you look at a products packaging it will tell you what the product is.

This technology can be extremely useful for the vision impaired or blind, and from our hands on we have seen that it works very well. The speed and accuracy of the OCR is exceptional, providing good quality speech output and being able to be triggered by the user simply pointing at what they want to be read. The speech is transmitted to the user via bone conduction so the audio is not spoken out loud to whoever is in the room with you!

Facial recognition is a feature that many will find useful to avoid embarrassing social faux pas, particularly useful for the blind or those with central vision loss, but does have limitations currently such as only being able to store 20 people in the memory, and having some problems if the person, for example, is wearing glasses but was not when they were initially stored in the memory. However there is a lot of potential for this idea and further updates will hopefully improve on some of these limitations.

The Orcam offers a new vision of how blindness and low vision technology can be integrated into your life through unobtrusive, wearable technology that assists with the things people most struggle with. Although not perfect, the Orcam offers a glimpse of the future of assistive technology and promises a new era where technology will seamlessly blend into a person's life and allow them full access to the world, whatever their disability.