Working for People with Sight Loss

Labs Product Reviews – Envision AI Smart Glasses

Lady wearing Envision AI Glasses

In the latest of our Technology Product Reviews, Seamus Brett in the NCBI Labs team provides us with an insight into the Envision AI Smart Glasses, innovative glasses that uses AI to describe surroundings to blind and visually impaired people in real time.

Item Name: Envision AI Smart glasses
Reviewed by: Seamus Brett

Description

Envision Glasses is a wearable device that claims to significantly improves the daily life of blind and visually impaired people. It provides access all kinds of visual information around the user. It’s designed to recognise and speak out text, objects, people, colours, products and so much more. The Envision Glasses can be worn all day with its comfortable, lightweight profile.

Unboxing / What are my first impressions of the item?

My first impressions on taking it out of the box was how cool, futuristic, and lightweight the device was. The envision glasses work by being paired with the envision app on the user’s iOS or android smartphone. Initially I could not get the glasses to pair with the envision app until I realised that they had to be unpaired from the smartphone of the previous user first. However once this was done, following the steps of the pairing process in the envision app was relatively straight forward. There is a raised power button on the inside of the glasses frame that you use to power it on, or off which takes about a minute.

I have been using this for a few days, how do I feel about it?

The envision glasses has the following features: Instant text, Scan Text, Describe Scene, Detect Colours, Find People, and Find Objects, all of which are accessed by swipes and tap gestures on the side panel on the glasses frame. I found that the Scan text feature which takes a photo of the text and then reads it back was more accurate than the Instant text feature which had a lot of errors. The Describe Scene feature worked well. I found the Detect Colours feature was not very accurate. The Find People worked ok but first required the user to take up to 5 photos of the person on their smartphone first then save and label it.

Is it accessible?

Initially a person who is blind may require some sighted assistance with attaching the control panel with camera to the glasses frame. However, after this the device is fully accessible.

What did I like?

As already stated I liked the look and feel of the device and after a few minutes of practice you quickly become adept at navigating forward and backwards through the different features on the glasses using forward and back swipes, single and double tap gestures.

What didn’t I like?

I found that almost all of the features or functions on the glasses require a wi-fi and Bluetooth connection to work which limits where they can be used. The Find person (facial recognition) didn’t work using data on my smart phone but required the phone to be connected to Wi-Fi.

Did it meet my expectations?

Unfortunately, not. The need for Wi-Fi to use almost all the features on the glasses is in my opinion a major disadvantage. Also, the accuracy of the instant text and colour detection was not good enough.

What improvements, if any, would I like to see in this product?

Improve the accuracy of the Instant Text and Detect Colour features. Ensure that all the features on the glasses work without relying on a constant wi-fi connection. Also, the Find Person feature should be able to work just from the glasses by tapping on the side panel to photograph the person and then add a voice label the photo without having to do all this through the envision app on the user’s phone.

Would I recommend this item to others?

No not as the product currently works. At a cost of almost €4,000 including VAT, it would need to work a lot better to justify this cost.

Is there other/competing technology you have tried, similar to this item?

Yes, the OrCam My Eye has similar features but provides better accuracy and ease of use. Also apps such as Seeing AI while not a wearable device also provide the same level of features with greater accuracy for free on a smartphone.