[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykDDxWbt5Nw’]If the video above doesn’t have you marveling at the creativity of humanity, we feel for you: the 21st century is going to be rough.The Israeli company OrCam offers the latest proof that the tiny, embattled Middle Eastern state is a leader in world-class technology. OrCam has created a pair of eyeglasses that allows blind and visually impaired people to “read” labels as they shop, navigate city streets, and read the newspaper. But, as the NYT reports, it’s even more impressive than that:
“What is remarkable is that the device learns from the user to recognize a new product,” said Tomaso Poggio, a computer scientist at M.I.T. who is a computer vision expert and with whom Dr. Shashua studied as a graduate student. “This is more complex than it appears, and, as an expert, I find it really impressive.” […][T]he OrCam technique, which was described in a technical paper in 2011 by the Hebrew University researchers, offers a reasonable trade-off between recognition accuracy and speed. The technique, known as Shareboost, is distinguished by the fact that as the number of objects it needs to recognize grows, the system minimizes the amount of additional computer power required.
OrCam carries a hefty $2,500 price tag, but the dividends it will pay are hard to fully tabulate. If it works as well as it does in the promotional video, it could drastically increase the quality of life of the world’s nearly 350 million visually impaired adults.All over the world today millions are able to grow food despite acute water shortages, thanks to precision Israeli drip irrigation technology. Paraplegics are walking thanks to an Israeli-built exoskeleton. Self-driving cars are making large strides toward becoming affordable thanks to Israeli ingenuity.This is what Israel has produced while fighting for its life. We hope to live long enough to see what the Jewish state, at peace and able to devote even more of its resources to research and civilian science, can someday accomplish for itself, for its neighbors, and for people all over the planet.