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OrCam’s AI-based reading device wins prestigious CES 2021 innovation award

OrCam Read is an assistive reading technology to help people with dyslexia, mild to moderate vision loss, reading fatigue

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The OrCam Read is a pen-like AI-based device that reads out text to people with reading challenges, such as dyslexia, mild to moderate vision loss, reading fatigue (Courtesy)
The OrCam Read is a pen-like AI-based device that reads out text to people with reading challenges, such as dyslexia, mild to moderate vision loss, reading fatigue (Courtesy)

Israel’s OrCam Technologies, a developer of artificial intelligence-based devices to assist the blind and visually impaired, has won the CES 2021 Innovation Awards Best of Innovation in the “accessibility” category for its OrCam Read digital reader.

The announcement was made ahead of the first all-digital CES 2021, one of the world’s most influential technology event, which will take place January 11-14, 2021.

The CES Innovation Awards program, owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, is an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products across 28 categories.

A panel of industry expert judges, including members of the media, designers and engineers, reviewed submissions based on innovation, engineering and functionality, aesthetic and design.

OrCam Read is an assistive reading technology that aims to support people with reading challenges, such as dyslexia, mild to moderate vision loss and reading fatigue, as well as for those who read large volumes of text.

The pen-sized handheld device reads full pages or screens of text aloud from any printed or digital surface, including newspapers, books, product labels, computers and smartphones. It does so entirely offline, without requiring an internet connection.

OrCam Read’s AI algorithms enable intuitive point-and-click operation, activating two precision laser guidance options, to read the entire highlighted text or target where to begin reading.

OrCam Read’s text-to-speech reading engine also incorporates a new interactive feature that combines advanced computer vision and natural language understanding (NLU) technologies developed by OrCam to operate as a voice-activated assistant, making texts more accessible to readers.

Activated by the user’s voice, the algorithms driving the Smart Reading feature listen to the user’s requests, retrieve the relevant information, and read the requested text to the user within a few seconds, OrCam said in a statement.

The startup was founded in 2010 by Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram, who are also the founders of auto technology firm Mobileye, which was sold to Intel Corp. in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

In January, the firm’s device for hearing impairment, the wearable OrCam Hear, got a “Best of Innovation” award for accessibility at the CES 2020 Innovation Awards.

Earlier this week the Calcalist financial website said that the firm is seeking to hold an initial public offering of shares in New York in 2021, to raise $300 million at a valuation of $3 billion.

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