After a year of discussions with Google, Yes!Delft startup Envision is ready to announce the integration of its AI-driven software for the visually impaired with the tech giant’s Google Glass solution. Now, the Hague-based company is looking to expand assistive technology to serve other impairments as well.
AI software company Envision’s assistive technology is now being supported on Google Glass, according to the Yes!Delft startup. The announcement comes roughly a year after the company started discussions with the tech giant to combine its AI solution with their smart glasses. The software, originally offered via the Envision app, was named the 2019 Best Accessiblity App by Google Play. Now, after a recent upgrade in hardware of the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, customers can preorder their Envision-enabled smart glasses.
Envision’s software utilizes in-house developed AI algorithms to extract different kinds of information from images and surroundings and then speaks the images out loud to give its user a better understanding of the environment around them. The software was developed as a platform on Google Glass, which uses the same backend as the Android app. Depending on the function, the information can be processed onboard the glasses or online if needed. The glasses connect to a smartphone, via Bluetooth, to access the Envision app, which allows users to adjust settings and connect to the Internet via the phone.
Change of scope
Since last speaking with Bits&Chips, Envision has continued to develop and enhance its software solution, particularly its optical character recognition (OCR), which can read any type of text from any surface (ie food packaging, posters, display screens and handwritten text – to name a few) in addition to scene and facial recognition and object detection. Furthermore, the Hague-based startup has received some financial support from EIT Headstart (50,000 euros) and MIT Haalbaarheid (20,000 euros) and has added two new members to its team.
With the news of this integration with Google Glass, Envision’s ongoing pilot project with the municipality of The Hague has now expanded its scope to include smart glasses. The project, which started last year, was designed to help blind and visually impaired job-seekers in the city to increase their employment opportunities with the help of the Envision app. The project will now see the introduction of the Envision-enabled glasses to a select group of pilot participants, comprised of both employed and unemployed citizens. “The goal of the pilot is to determine the impact that the Envision app and glasses can have on the employment opportunities, workplace productivity and social integration among the visually impaired citizens,” describes Karthik Mahadevan, co-founder and CEO of Envision.
Going forward, Envision is looking to further develop its AI software to provide support for a broader audience and over additional platforms. “The way we see it, the Envision glasses are an addition to our offering on a smartphone. In the long term, Envision aims to be a device-agnostic software that can function on any device with a camera,” explains Mahadevan. “Our next steps are to have a successful preorder while also determining supplier and distributor channel to scale our latest offering. Next year, we also intend to extend our features to enable people with cognitive impairments like dyslexia and dementia.”