UPDATE ON Wearables: Sight and Sound Enhancement

Jordie spectacles with battery pack.

My new book: When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery, a How To guide for people losing sight and their families has just been published, including accessible versions. This post is referred to in Chapter 10, “Modern Mobility.” Check out the Book Page

A wearable is a pair of spectacles or goggles worn on your head. Most are not worn while walking but lowered into place to get an enhanced image through the device camera.

The prices are deep in the thousands and there have been accusations of price-gouging. Most involve big goggle-like spectacles but One model – the OrCam – clips the tiny camera and speaker to the earpiece of your own eye glasses .

A wearable may enhance vision with magnification, contrast and brightness – such as the Jordy, allowing you to focus far away and close up. Or it may have smart capacity with blue tooth allowing you to freeze an image view it on your phone or tablet, plug in to your laptop and even stream video games – such as eSight.

The OrCam 2 adds text to speech, a barcode reader and facial recognition. But all wearables are really only useful to people with some vision, including the models with speech capacity. The developers say you can use it without vision but you do have to point at the notice or text you want it to read.

“This is a niche product for people with some cash who want to have all the features as they move about the world. Wearables are like a Swiss army knife – thots of tools but mostly the tools aren’t as good as the equivalent single-use tool,” says Bob McGillivray, director of low vision services at the Carroll Center for the Blind, Newton Massachusetts. “You get some basic training when you purchase one of these, but you will also need to teach yourself the finer points. You do have to accept looking odd, but mostly they are not for walking around, but are raise and lowered as needed.”

To use smart wearables you do need smartphone skills. And wearables are updating constantly. You should read the latest reviews and try different types before you think about buying.

The wearables mentioned here (there are others) are :

Jordy (battery and LV only)

eSight smart spectacles   vision only,

ORCam 2 Smart spectacles , speech bar codereader, facial recognition

AIRA is a subscription model which offers smart glasses with the more expensive subscriptions. It is described in “Distant Eyes (Subscription)”

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