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OrCam's $2,500 augmented reality glasses speak words aloud, help the visually impaired 'see'

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orcam 640
orcam 640

If you only have a little bit of trouble reading things, a pair of simple corrective glasses could help you see. If you've got a hole in your eye, though, like OrCam employee Liat Negrin, you might need a more drastic fix. The Israeli startup thinks it might have just the thing: a $2,500 pair of glasses that can read things for you, and even help you cross the street. The OrCam, as demonstrated in the video below, can recognize English text, and read it aloud using the processing power of a pocketable computer that connects to the glasses via cable.

The clever part is how you pick what the OrCam reads: you simply reach out with a finger, and place it on top of what you'd like to "see." A built-in camera recognizes the motion, and the company claims it can also identify hundreds of specific objects beyond text: for instance, it can let you know when a crosswalk sign switches from red to green. As with Google's Glass headset, the audio is piped to a bone conduction speaker so others can't eavesdrop. So far, the device only reads English text, but apps like Word Lens have shown us that even real-time foreign language translation could be a possibility with devices like this.

OrCam's looking to ship its first 100 units to visually impaired buyers in September, with plans to produce more beginning later this year and into 2014. Read a little more about the company and its vision in this profile by The New York Times.