The Inside Scoop on Wearable Technology

Two men talking, one is wearing glasses with a cord attached to them.
Brent Prezentka, Sharper Vision Store manager (on right) shows a customer how to use the OrCam glasses.

For decades, science fiction writers have imagined devices that could read text from a printed page or give users the ability to instantly connect with another person to accomplish tasks. Now, with wearable technology, those dreams have become reality! Having hands-free access to information is one of the many advantages of wearable technology. Some devices work best for people who have some functional vision and some work well for people who have limited vision, or no vision at all. They all require a power source, like a rechargeable battery.

Some wearable technology have electronic magnifiers mounted on glasses or goggle frames. Magnification is variable, from low power to very high power and can magnify items that are close or objects that are far away. Other devices feature OCR technology and work by taking a picture of text and reading it out loud through a speaker in the frame. Some wearable technology identify money, tell time, read barcodes on products, and can even be programmed to identify individual faces. Others even connect to smartphones and deliver a wider array of capabilities.

The trade-off for obtaining this technology is the high price tag. Prices vary widely – from $2,300 to $10,000. Wearable technology can be heavy and cumbersome to use. You cannot walk while wearing many of these devices, as your field of vision is impaired. If you have any head tremors, these devices will make the motion more pronounced. An evaluation with a vision rehabilitation or low vision specialist is advised to determine if one of these devices is appropriate. Often times, less expensive and more easily available tools can accomplish the same goals.

If you want to experience a piece of wearable technology for yourself, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired is able to provide an in-person demonstration of the OrCam, Jordy and AIRA devices. Note that the OrCam Glasses and Jordy devices are the only wearable technologies in this article that can be purchased directly from The Sharper Vision Store. Our Vision Services team will be happy to perform an evaluation to help you determine if one of these devices is right for you. Please contact the Council by calling 800-783-5213 to set up a time for a demonstration or make an appointment for a low vision evaluation.

 

Brands of wearables:

Aira

Starts at $90 per month to rent, like a cell phone plan.

CyberEyez

$2,300, Under development.

Iris Vision

$2,500

OrCam

$2,500 – $4,500, Available at the Council’s Sharper Vision Store.

The Jordy

$3,600 – $3,700,  Available at the Council’s Sharper Vision Store.

Nu Eyes

$6,000 – $6,200

eSight

$10,000

 

To learn more about wearable technology not available for purchase or demonstration at the Council, search using your favorite search engine for each under the device name.

Technology is constantly changing and evolving. This equipment will continue to develop, grow more enhanced, become smarter, and hopefully get smaller as time goes on.

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