Envision brings AI to Google Glass to help visually impaired users see
Google Glass might not have made the best impression when it first came out years ago, but the concept of a glasses-sized computer with a small screen, camera, and speaker had promise, particularly for specific applications. Today, Envision is debuting Envision Glasses, an AI-powered augmentation of Google Glass that can help visually impaired users “see” their environments.
Envision Glasses are a complete solution, combining Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 with OCR and computer vision software to identify what’s in the wearer’s environment, then speak it out loud using Glass’ built-in speaker. Instead of holding up a smartphone and using its camera and software to read signs or identify people — the experience in Envision’s Android and iOS apps — the company has made the same AI technologies accessible from lightweight glasses frames, dramatically improving the real-world recognition experience for blind and low-vision users.
On the text side, the software can quickly and accurately identify words in 60 languages, reading aloud everything from printed materials to computer screens and handwriting, regardless of the type of writing surface. It can also find objects, recognize faces, detect colors, and describe scenes for the wearer. That collection of capabilities will enable users to interact with friends, independently use public transportation, and navigate their homes — all challenges for users with visual impairments. If a user prefers to have the Glasses speak directly in an ear rather than through the speaker, wired and Bluetooth wireless headphones are supported.
The core hardware features are unchanged from the standard Glass Enterprise Edition 2, including eight-hour battery life, a side-mounted touchpad, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless hardware, and USB-C connectivity for power and wired headphones. Envision considers Glass’ screen to be “redundant for our use case,” relying largely on the headset’s camera, speaker, touchpad, and processor for users’ needs.
Envision Glasses are available for preorder today, with “super early bird” pricing of $1,699, “early bird” at $1,899, and a regular retail price of $2,099. They’re expected to begin shipping to the earliest customers in August 2020.
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