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Dutch startup Envision announces the worldwide launch of its AI-assistive smart glasses for the blind & visually impaired

Envision

Based out of Hague, the Netherlands, Envision, an AI-assistive technology company that empowers blind and visually impaired people with access to the visual information around them, has announced the official launch of Envision Glasses, an AI-powered, assistive glasses.

What is Envision?

Founded in late 2017 by Karthik Kannan and Karthik Mahadevan, Envision uses AI-powered software to extract different types of information from images and speaks them out loud, enabling blind and low-vision users to perform everyday activities such as read documents at work, recognise their friends, find personal belongings at home, use public transportation, and more, independently.

According to the company, Envision’s AI-assistive software can read all kinds of text in more than 60 languages, recognise faces, describe scenes, detect colours, find objects, and more. 

The software is available for use in two different ways: 

  • On assistive smart glasses as embedded, hands-free technology 
  • As an iOS and Android smartphone app

The Envision Glasses are available with a choice of two different frame types and retail for €2999 (excluding tax), on the company website. These glasses are also available via authorised resellers Florida Reading and Vision Technology (US), Sight and Sound Technology (UK), and Babbage (Netherlands), for $ 3500, £2695, and €2999 (excluding tax), respectively.

How do Envision Glasses work?

“Envision was born from our desire to empower blind and visually impaired people with greater independence and access to the visual world. Envision Glasses integrate our proprietary AI-assistive software with high quality, lightweight, enterprise-grade Google Glass to offer the most robust and cost-effective vision aid technology solution on the market today,” says Karthik Mahadevan, CEO, and co-founder of Envision.

According to the company, Envision Glasses combine an abundance of “Read, Find, Identify and Call” functionality and exclusive features with the fastest and most accurate OCR (Optical Character Recognition) available to truly help users ‘see’ the world around them through the spoken word.

Envision’s AI-assistive software is capable of recognising text and scripts in more than 60 languages, providing the largest language bank available on the market. Its Batch Scan functionality also allows users to scan more than one document at a time, and all text can easily be exported to the Envision app’s library.

Here’s a short video you can check out on how Envision works

Additional features and tech specifications

  • Real-time, Instant Text: Read short pieces of text, public transportation information, i.e., bus, train, tram or subway schedules, street signs, food labels, etc. Works with a live video feed, so users can scan around and their Envision Glasses will continue to speak out whatever text is in front of them
  • Video Call: Allows the user to make a video call from within the Envision Glasses to a friend or a family member who has the Envision Ally app, enabling them to see a direct video feed from the Glasses and assist the user in the event they need help. Users can also opt to share additional information like their current location on a map
  • Describe Scene: Take a picture and the AI will describe what’s in the image to help the user gain a general sense of what is around them. Images can also be saved, making it a great way for taking photographs
  • Find Person: Scan around with this feature activated and Envision will give you a mild beep every time it sees a person in the frame. Users can also teach Envision the faces of their friends and family, so when their faces come in the frame, their names will be spoken to the user
  • Find Objects: Select from a list of objects and scan your environment. The Envision glasses will beep whenever the object being searched for is in the frame. The company claims it’s great for finding the remote control on the couch

Weighing less than 2 ounces/50 grams, the glasses are equipped with an 8-MP camera with a wide field-of-view, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled, 8s0mAh battery: 5-6 hours with regular usage, USB-C supported for rapid charging, directional mono speaker, USB audio and Bluetooth audio, and 640×360 optical display module. The company also claims these glasses to be water and dust resistant

Previous developments

Earlier in March this year, Envision had announced the integration of its AI-powered software technology into Google Glass at CSUN, one of the biggest assistive technology conferences in the US.

Prior to that in March 2019, the company had raised €250K in its Seed round of funding from the newly established tech and impact investment fund 4impact. The fund helped Envision to drive localised marketing efforts and commercial partnerships. Moreover, the funds enabled the team to expand to wearable cameras and smart glasses.

Image credit: Envision

Startups – Silicon Canals

Succeeding as a blind or deaf founder

Starting a startup is challenging as it is, and much of the information and tools that founders enjoy from today don't have a great fit for deaf and blind people.

Do you know any resources (or tools) that address this? In fields such as entrepreneurship education, operation, forming teams, managing a company, etc.

Do you have any advice for blind or deaf startup founders?

(*I also posted this in r/Entrepreneur)

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