This week, Envision announced a technology set to revolutionize the lives of blind and visually impaired people around the world. The Dutch startup created Envision Glasses, an AI-powered version of Google Glass that allows people to “see” their surroundings.
When wearing Envision Glasses, a blind or visually impaired person is able to gain greater hands-free independence. Using advanced sensors and vision software, Envision Glasses can scan a person’s environment and voice it out loud through built-in speakers. The smart glasses were designed in partnership with Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2.
As a company, Envision had already developed an advanced Android and iOS app which uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The Envision smartphone app can read text on all kinds of surfaces, quickly and accurately. It can also scan a person’s visual surroundings and provide descriptions in over 60 languages. Combining Envision’s software with Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 means users will be able to do tasks without a cane, Braille, or having to constantly hold a smartphone. Everything from waving back to a co-worker to reading food labels can be done seamlessly.
No clunky hardware, human guides or inaccurate data points. Individuals with low-vision or blindness can read their doctor’s handwriting, pick products off the shelf when shopping, avoid hazards when crossing the street, and even recognize friends or family because the technology takes advantage of camera and facial analysis software. Users can record moments live and share what they witnessed with friends. The access however, does come with a hefty price tag.
Pre-order officially kicked off on Monday, starting at $1,699. Shipping begins later this August and will officially retail for $2,099. According to the IAPB, 253 million people around the world are visually impaired; 89% come from poor or middle-income countries. As Envision Glasses gain popularity, the sticker price is likely to decrease. Especially because Envision is a mission-driven company. The question of affordability can either be viewed as a sign of progress or luxury. Regardless of your perspective, we live in a world where the technology exists. Similar to eyewear advancements made in the 19th century for near and farsighted individuals; having more freedom, confidence and personal privacy just by donning a pair of smart glasses provides an entire population to greater, life-altering opportunities.