An ongoing project to create reading assistance wearable called Oton GLASS which started back in 2012 may be getting a new life through a crowdsourcing campaign for funding on Japan's Campfire platform. The purpose of the campaign is fairly straightforward. Oton is looking to raise enough money to take the product into its production phase with a goal at a retail cost of approximately $47, or 5,000 yen. Beyond that, a portion of the money will go into research and development to further improve over this iteration of the technology. In fact, the nature of the campaign is such that Oton will be able to reinvest the money in funding the project further regardless of whether its larger goal is met.
As to the smartglasses themselves, the Oton GLASS are built to look similar to a normal pair of reading glasses. However, they are intended to help individuals who have sight-related difficulties interact more completely with their surroundings. Two cameras are in place in the frames, one to take input from the wearer and another to capture text the wearer is trying to read. The system behind those is built on a cloud platform powered by Raspberry Pi. Blinks are registered by the first camera, which results in the second camera snapping an image of text, with the cloud system translating the text into speech. That speech is transmitted to an earpiece worn by the user. In cases where text can't be read, a fallback system is in place which depends on human translators and readers.
While it isn't necessarily the only company looking to create this type of a device, Oton has a long history that may also ultimately give it an advantage over some competitors. As of this writing, the company's efforts have managed to raise 12-percent of its $93,500 (ten million yen) goal. That's not necessarily a great start, but the campaign isn't set to end until May 3. So there should still be plenty of time for the total goal to be met. In the meantime, anybody interested in checking out the campaign or learning more about the story behind the technology for themselves can head over to Campfire via the banner below.