Lisa Hayes has had a debilitating illness since birth, but a small device she got for free has changed everything.
For most of us, receiving junk mail is an annoyance. For Sydney woman Lisa Hayes, it’s a thrill. She was born completely blind and has never known what it’s like to scan through the items in unsolicited catalogues that get stuffed into her letter box.
That was until last September when she received a small device that clips onto a pair of glasses and uses sophisticated artificial intelligence technology to recognise faces and read text for her. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever had,” Ms Hayes, 50, and says the device has transformed her life. “It has got be the breakthrough of the 21st century as far as I’m concerned.”
The product, called MyEye 2, is the second version of the assistive wearable technology made by Israeli company OrCam. Designed for the blind and visually impaired, the device clips on to the side of a pair of glasses. On the front is a camera with real-time visual recognition technology and on the back is a small speaker that discreetly relays the information into the ear of the user — and comes in 23 different languages. Ms Hayes has been proficient in braille from an early age but she now relishes being able to read a book or magazine article recommended to her by friends.
“Being totally blind since birth, I’ve never been able to read a print book,” she said. “I can now actually read.