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The Envision Glasses Review | The Glasses for Blind People

These AI smart glasses are helping people who are blind or visually impaired hear the world around them. They're called Envision glasses and they can read documents, identify people and objects and help with navigation.

You wear the device like any regular pair of glasses but these speak aloud what's around you. With a few simple taps on the side, you can navigate a menu to scan text, identify people or describe a scene.

Envision can read and translate handwritten, printed or digital text in over 60 languages.

envision glasses review

Karthik Kannan is Envision's co-founder says “What Envision glasses essentially does is just takes in all the visual information that's around you, tries to process that information and then speaks that out to the user.”

Envision is developed on the enterprise edition of Google glass, yes it turns out Google glass is still alive. In case you're not familiar, Google first unveiled these smart glasses back in 2013. They were supposed to let people take calls, send texts, snap pictures and look at maps all from the headset but they never hit store shelves. A few years later Google started working on an enterprise edition of the glasses which is what Envision is built on. Their wearable and slim design makes them a perfect fit for this use.

The glasses have a thin frame and a small camera and speakers on the right hand side to relay information to the wearer. There's also a touch pad where users can tap to access the menu of features.

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In these glasses you can do a one finger double tap to get some information like the time and the battery level and the wi-fi and so on. And then a one finger swipe to go through the different options in the glasses which are as follows

Read: it's basically a category that contains all the different read functionality on the glasses

Call: is the video calling feature

Identify: basically contains all the different identification features

Find: is where we have all the different find based features like you want to find a particular object in environment, find people or just have the glasses speak out every single object that it can see in your surroundings that's something that you can do with the find

What are the other Similar Products like Envision Glasses?

Over the last several years, there's been a handful of other companies that have also created similar products. In 2019 for example, Google launched the Lookout app, which helps people who are blind or low vision identify food labels, find objects in a room and scan documents and money.

Be my eyes is another app that connects people who are blind or visually impaired to sighted volunteers who can help them via live chat.

envision glasses all features

What sets Envision apart is that you don't have to hold up a phone to get help. The fact that it's a wearable makes it more intuitive since the camera is right next to your eyes. Other headsets like Esight help people with low vision and legal blindness see the world more clearly whereas Envision speaks aloud what's around someone.

Mike May who's been using Envision for a few weeks says the glasses free up his hands and make it easier for him to use a cane or walk a dog. In fact during our interview, May was in Hawaii and said he brought his Envisioned glasses to explore the area.

Where can you buy Envision Glasses and what is the Pricing?

Envisioned glasses became available in 2020 though the pandemic of course made it difficult to reach new customers. But since then the team's been working to make the glasses more widely available and people can now get them in 20 countries.

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The glasses do come with a steep price tag of $3500, you can order them through the Envision website or from one of the company's distributors. You can also opt to use the Envision app which costs twenty dollars for a one year subscription or ninety nine dollars for a lifetime subscription.

Additional Features of Envision Glasses

You can teach Envision to recognize faces by having people take selfies in the app and then enter their name. After that, the glasses can speak aloud their name when they're in frame.

Another popular feature is Ally which connects users to their friends and family through private video calls. You can place a call directly from the glasses and get help with navigating public transportation or making a recipe for example.

They give you this unique first-person perspective of the one that you're actually helping, so the allies can see directly from the camera on the glasses, they can hear the audio from the glasses user as well and then the glasses user can hear their ally. Envision is also working on a feature that would let users connect with volunteers through ally not just people they know. The company also just rolled out some updates to make its glasses easier to use.

envision glasses features

Now if someone holds a document and it's out of frame, the glasses will talk them through how to move that document so they can scan it. Another recent addition is third party app support, which lets other developers make their services available on Envision. One of the first partnerships is with an app called cash reader, which lets Envision users identify over 100 currencies. The company is also working on adding voice commands to the glasses, that's slated to become available later this year.

Users will be able to go ahead and use it very similar to how they use it with Siri or Google Assistant. Just say “Hey Envision, can you read this or can you see who's in front of me and so on” that makes it even more unobtrusive and even more hands-free than what it is right now. The app can also scan text and tell you about your surroundings using your phone's camera.

What the future holds?

Kannan and his co-founder started building the app in 2016 after visiting a school for the blind in India. Several students there said they wish they could go out or read a book independently. They started working on the Envision app as a side project and within months had hundreds of users on the beta version but their budget ran out and they thought it was time to move on. So they sent an email saying they were shutting down the app. The next day, they woke up and saw like 400 odd emails, all of them saying “why are you shutting this down, this is this is what we've been talking to everyone about and this is exactly what we need and you shouldn't be shutting this down” and it really made the founders reconsider and so that's when they decided to start Envision as a proper company.

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They got some help from a local incubator to make it through the early days and quickly launched the app as a subscription service that helped bring in some needed revenue. Since then Envision has expanded its team and product availability and last year raised over 1.6 million dollars to build up its efforts.

Looking ahead, Envision's goal is to bring other apps onto the glasses like IRA which connects people to trained agents who can see what's around them using their phone's camera. An integration with Envision would mean users could connect to IRA directly from the glasses instead. Envision is also in talks with navigation apps to try to bring their services onto the glasses. In the meantime, the glasses are already achieving that early mission of giving visually impaired people their independence.

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