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Envision Incorporates ChatGPT AI Sight Assistance Into Its Smart Glasses for the Visually Impaired

Released: 5/1/2023

Author: Aaron Di Blasi, Publisher, Top Tech Tidbits

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Top Tech Tidbits. The world's #1 online resource for current news and trends in access technology. Masthead logo includes title as well as five stylized access logos, clockwise a long cane user, enlarged print, fingers signing interpreter, full braille cell, hearing aid user.

Envision, a top creator of smart glasses designed to assist blind individuals in reading and identifying objects, has integrated a groundbreaking voice-activated sight assistant into its glasses, powered by the most sophisticated artificial intelligence ever developed.

In November 2022, OpenAI, the organization responsible for ChatGPT, introduced its revolutionary generative AI natural language processing tool, which enables human-like interactions with a chatbot.

A recent March 2023 update has been praised by industry experts as a significant step forward in the adoption of more advanced AI in consumer technology, with tech giant Microsoft already incorporating the technology into its products.

Since its launch in 2020, Netherlands-based Envision, which utilizes Google Glass eyewear for hardware, has employed the glasses' camera to capture text in documents or on packaging, providing an audio text-to-speech read-out for the wearer, among other features.

However, this new integration with ChatGPT 4.0 via a dedicated API announced earlier this month elevates assistive technology for the visually impaired to new heights by enabling document interpretation capabilities comparable to those of fully sighted individuals.

A True Game Changer

Prior to the introduction of the new Ask Envision feature, users seeking to extract essential textual information, such as the balance due on a utility bill or cooking instructions on food packaging, had to scan and read all available text with their glasses, sifting through irrelevant details until key information was found.

Now, with Ask Envision, users can capture text using the glasses' camera and verbally ask ChatGPT direct questions about the document, ranging from "What is the balance of this bill?" to "What are the vegetarian options on this menu?"

Within seconds, Ask Envision delivers detailed and accurate responses to the wearer via speech output.

Trained on vast data sets from web browsing and human interactions, ChatGPT 4 also boasts a high level of contextual awareness, allowing it to perform tasks as complex as summarizing lengthy documents or suggesting a route for the user based on a public transit map.

Other essential tasks this innovative virtual assistant can master include identifying crucial data from graphs and charts, providing near-instant translations of foreign language documents and packaging, interpreting assembly instructions, and guiding the user to a specific item in a travel itinerary or schedule.

The software even processes and understands natural language to the extent that it can, upon request, compose a rap in the style of Eminem, or any chosen artist, using the language of a restaurant menu or corporate flyer!

Ultimately, however, the true appeal of Ask Envision lies in the incredible simplicity of its user interface.

While employing unimaginably complex technology behind the scenes, the user interface is as easy to use as asking an everyday question or engaging in a basic conversation.

Indeed, the existing version of Envision glasses enables users to make remote calls for sighted help using the device's camera feed, but Envision CEO Karthik Mahadevan envisions the ChatGPT integration making remote sighted assistance increasingly unnecessary:

"Our ultimate goal is for the glasses to be as easy to interact with as if there were a sighted person sitting next to you to answer questions," Mahadevan states.

"The technology should provide answers as accurate as a human, while making the user feel more independent because they don't have to rely on anyone else."

Envision hosted a webinar earlier this month to introduce Ask Envision to its users. The video included testimonials from two beta testers who praised its game-changing potential:

"This is awesome. My mind is totally blown by this," exclaimed Chela from California.

She added, "It's going to get better and better, and I can see this opening many opportunities for receiving information in various ways. I'm excited to see more of what's coming down the pipeline."

Wesley from Calgary, who works in customer support and technical support at a call center, said, "The Envision glasses have given me a greater sense of independence, mobility, and a more positive can-do attitude. I don't have to ask for help from others as much, and I eagerly anticipate further advancements in the future."

New Horizons

Looking ahead, the next phase for Ask Envision, with some aspects currently in beta testing, will concentrate on harnessing ChatGPT's power to recognize images, objects, and live scenes — not just text.

The possibilities are limitless, from identifying facial expressions and different objects to providing navigational directions.

In the meantime, Mahadevan is most excited about the potential for AI to consolidate multiple assistive technology solutions in one place.

"ChatGPT is enabling us to leapfrog several other technologies because suddenly you don't need a separate translation app or another app to help read a menu."

He elaborates, "We see this as the one feature that will surpass many assistive technologies. Users will have access to an ultra-intelligent AI assistant who will understand everything under the sun for them."

Considering the current rate of artificial intelligence development, this vision will likely include efficiencies and interactions that were unimaginable for individuals with severe sight impairments just a few years ago.


Aaron Di Blasi, PMP

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