How the OrCam MyEye is helping a Canberra man read

Roy Daniell is one of the first people in the ACT to try out the OrCam MyEye, a new device that reads to people with vision impairment. Photo: Jamila Toderas
Roy Daniell is one of the first people in the ACT to try out the OrCam MyEye, a new device that reads to people with vision impairment. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Roy Daniell was 10 when he was diagnosed with rod-cone dystrophy, an eye condition that leads to gradual blindness. Now he's one of the first Canberrans to use new technology that turns his glasses into a minicomputer, scanning and reading information for him. 

"By the time I was in year 10 at school, I couldn't read normal text and basically I've had a large blank spot in the middle of my vision ever since," Mr Daniell said. 

"I've got reasonably good peripheral vision so I don't trip over things much which is kind of good but I can't see where I'm going."

The 52-year-old is one of the first Canberrans to use the OrCam MyEye, a new device that is clipped onto a pair of glassess and reads to the wearer. 

It has a camera, a speaker and a cable that hooks up to a bigger device that is roughly the size of a smartphone and can be put into a pocket. When a user points to text, the OrCam scans the words and speaks it into the user's ear. 

"I've been frustrated with the digital read technology in products. 

"The good thing about the OrCam is that you can point to a particular part of the page and have it read part of the page to you which is kind of nice."

The tech can also remember up to 100 faces. The device says the name of the person if you've previously recorded the face. And if it's an unknown person, it gives hints like "a young woman is in front of you".

Mr Daniell, a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, has tried many technologies to assist him with his everyday activities, including his postgraduate studies.

"The beauty of this thing is it's really mobile and it works really quickly so as you say you just put it in front of the document and within 10 seconds it just started reading the document to you."

The Orcam can also identify objects. A simple trip to the local supermarket can be difficult for Mr Daniell. 

"I do most of the grocery shopping in my family and I often come home from the supermarket with bizarre things that looked a bit like the thing that I was after," he said

"It's always good for a chuckle when we eat what it was and it wasn't going to be the thing we thought it was going to be."