Orcam read on top of the box it came in
Disability,  Visual Impairment

OrCam Read, is it worth the investment?

Thank you to VisionAid for letting me trial this product for a few weeks. I have not been asked to write a review and this isn’t a sponsored post. I personally wanted to share this product so it can benefit others.


The OrCam Read is a portable reading device. After been designed for people reading difficulties like dyslexia and reading fatigue, it is equally (if not more) beneficial for visually impaired people.

The device is a piece of assistive technology that allows you to turn written text into audio almost instantly using a camera. Due to the camera you are able to capture a whole page to translate, with physical and digital text being recognised.

First thoughts

The product came in a really sleek box with minimum packaging. When I unboxed the OrCam Read I was instantly surprised at how small and light it was! I’d read about its capabilities and was expecting something that was bulky and heavier.

To give you some background, I am registered as partially sighted and have used a long white cane for a few years now. I have reduced peripheral but I do have residual central vision when things are in close range. At the moment I use a combination of enlarged text, digital magnifiers and a screenreader to access written information.

Shows the controls on top of the device. Circle, plus, minus, line

Turning the device on was easy, with the product verbalising it was setting up, and in no time at all I was using the product to read any text I could get my hands on. It was so impressive. Responses were really quick and accurate on a variety of things. I tried it on letters, bottles and text messages, having no problems at all.

How does it work?

All you have to do is aim the device at what you want it to read, press the trigger button which is a circle located on the top of the OrCam Read. You will hear an audible click and two seconds later it will begin to read the text. The device has two modes, the first being called the frame. This is used to capture a full page, with the device projecting a red rectangle onto the page you are scanning. Secondly, the pointer shows a single red dot, this can be used to more accurately select a specific area. I personally can only make out the red border of the frame mode. However, I don’t believe this to be a barrier as you can still accurately find what you need just by pointing the OrCam Read at the text you want to read.

Even within that first try, it was a massive thumbs up from me!

The review:

Benefits

As small but mighty device, the OrCam Read would certainly have been useful at university. Using a magnifier to get through pages of a textbook took a long time!

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Very simple buttons with good tactile elements
  • Two different modes: pointer and frame.
  • Works from a distance.
  • Lightweight.
  • Internet not required, only for updates.
  • Long battery life.
  • Access to all future updates from OrCam.
  • Headphone port and Bluetooth for added privacy.

During lockdown I’ve spent some time having a mini clear out, yet there is always one element that I seem to put off — paperwork. Magnifiers aren’t impossible, but it can be time consuming to scan full pages and actually get to the information that you need. For reason, the pile of papers had remained untouched for some time. Yes, I could ask someone to go through them, but in the grand scheme of things it was never massively important. However, armed with the OrCam Read this was actually really quick and easy to do. It may sound trivial, but being able to do those small things independently would make a big difference.

The back of the box, empowering people

Potential improvements

Despite it being the most affordable OrCam product, it is expensive. I’m fully aware it is a groundbreaking piece of kit, I just see so much potential and the price could make it unaffordable for people who really need it.

Currently the device doesn’t let you know which mode it is in. However, I believe this is due to be a feature in a future update. The reason behind this is due to this specific device supporting a range of disabilities. You recieve an alert if there is not enough light to process text, meaning it could be difficult in low-light situations. Again, the product does have an LED light so this should be enabled in later updated.

Finally, this isn’t a negative of the product, more the limitations of the current situation. With lockdown still limiting normal life, I do believe there are loads of potential benefits that I have not yet experienced. For example, I would love to try the OrCam Read on menus, food shopping, clothes shopping, train timetables and street signs. Therefore, I feel it is hard to make substantial review. On the other hand, it’s potential could be extremely life-changing.

Worth a purchase?

At £1,800 it certainly is an investment. However, it fills a massive gap in the market for a wide range of people and is such a clever and portable design. It is hard to find faults with this OrCam product and it is able to aid independence in many areas of daily life.

I believe this product has potential to massively help my own independence. The simple things like going to a shop and stocking up on essentials, that most people probably don’t give a second thought, would be made easier. Not only that, I know this product can benefit others. Whether you are blind, dyslexic or have reading fatigue, be sure to check out the OrCam Read and see if it could make a difference to your life.

~ Chloe x

9 Comments

  • Jo Fullerton

    Hi Chloe

    You mention the high cost of this product at £1800. How do you feel it compares with using a free app on a smartphone such as Seeing AI (iOS) or OptiVis Daily (Android and iOS). Both of these apps can read printed text on a range of items such as the ones you mention. Some people find the idea of a Smartphone or tablet a bit too complex to learn to use and there are slightly more steps involved in getting the print read aloud using an app than using this Orcam Reader. Do you find that this simpler device is more convenient, or accurate than using a smartphone? Would you consider it worth the additional cost?

    Thanks

    Jo

    • chloetear

      Hi Jo,

      I have used Seeing AI which I do believe has its place. However, the OrCam just is so handy when out and about and is quicker with more clarify.

      I appreciate the big price tag though!

  • ARLENE PRITCHETT

    I use my OrCam often. It helps to have extra power on a battery pack.i am concerned after the lanyard disconnected. It is so hard to keep track of the reader! Is there a fix for that?

    thanks for your reply.

  • lynnenicholson

    I’m seriously considering getting the My Eye which does everything Seeing A I does but more discretely than waving my iPhone around.

    Henshaws did a comparison on the reading accuracy comparing an Optelec reader, the Orcam, and Seeing A I here’s the link to the video

    https://youtu.be/7onTiU8rYLU

    They all compare pretty well on accuracy the Orcam had in my opinion the edge on discretion and speed. Now I must sign up for your blog as somehow when I changed emails a while back I lost you. Since your blog was amongst the first I found after my sight loss it was one of the things that helped the frightened 55 year old become a confident 59 year old woman who is registered blind. Thank you for sharing your experience

    • chloetear

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me. An interesting video! Always good to have a comparison of products like theses.

      I’m so glad my blog has been able to help you with your sight loss journey. All the very best x

  • Diane

    Thank you Chloe for this informative review. I am researching this device for a friend with severe dyslexia and was a bit sceptical about the American site’s claims, so it is refreshing to hear that it is a good product. Please can you tell me where he might purchase an Orcam Read as I have only been able to find it on the Orcam USA site.

    Thank you again for your helpful blog.

    Diane

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