Category : GENERAL
By OTON GLASS Inc. (Japan)
OTON GLASS is a set of smart glasses designed to help dyslexic people to read words. The camera captures pictures of words that a user wants to read and reads out the words for the user via the earpiece.
I was determined to develop OTON GLASS because of my own father’s experiences with dyslexia. In 2012, my father had a brain tumor, and developed dyslexia after his operation –this was the catalyst for OTON GLASS. Fortunately, he recovered fully after rehabilitation. However, many people have congenital dyslexia regardless of their symptoms. First, I interviewed my father and observed his behavior and identified problems. During the concept development phase, I did idea sketching and video prototyping. I formed a team of engineers and product designers who invented an active prototype. I saw the necessity to develop OTON GLASS after receiving feedback from my father and 5 other dyslexic people.
We developed a prototype using CAD and 3D printer. OTON GLASS utilizes Raspberry Pi (RPi) as its computer. The RPi processes these images by OCR and detects the words in the images. The artificial voice technology changes words to sounds, which the user can then understand it’s meaning. This OTON GLASS prototype is constantly being updated.
Some say that this is the era of artificial intelligence (AI), but I imagine it would be quite difficult for AI to understand the feelings of others, be deeply moved or feel strongly motivated. The theme for this year’s Yamaha Award, “the switch to your emotions”, may have been a challenging theme as it required entrants to leverage the current technology and step into the realm of human emotions. Rather than ideas for tools to make our lives more convenient or solutions to familiar or pressing issues, I anticipated that the theme would lend itself best to artistic works that touch the hearts of people, but I was completely off the mark. I was surprised to see emotions generally based on nonverbal communication and even in one case it being measured with brainwaves, reiterated to me the human essence of the entries. Conversely, the switch aspect was interpreted from both sides – from the pushed and the pusher’s perspective -- all of which I found interesting and admired the wide variety of approaches. It may come as a surprise to some people but from all of these entries, we ended up selecting OTON GLASS for the Yamaha Award. Some people may have expected that an entry that touches on sound would have been selected for the Yamaha Award, but we felt that this story was really worth sharing. This entry—glasses which recognize characters and automatically convert text to audio—was created by the entrant with the sincere hope of helping his father who suddenly developed a condition that made it difficult for him to recognize and read text. In the entry video, there was no mention whatsoever of the switch to our emotions. However, seeing the contributors having trouble reading the text and then watching their faces come to life and the pure joy in their hearts when they experienced the mix of visual and audio input for the first time, filled us with such high hopes for these glasses. It is a very practical tool and who knows…one day these glasses may even be able to sing when used to look at a music score. They may even be able to speak with emotion by sounding intimidating when reading bold print, or whisper when reading small print. Maybe one day, with these glasses, it will be possible to read newspapers covering hard news to sound like a theatrical performance. And who knows what will become of cartoons as the Yamaha team of engineers let their imaginations go wild! I cannot wait to see what kind of emotional switches we can develop together with OTON GLASS.
We were really happy to receive so many entries on our theme of an “Emotional Switch”. All I can say is thank you very much.
Personally, it’s my ambition to make people’s everyday lives around the world more fun and enjoyable. So what I think I was looking for, was a switch that could be the spark for this. From among the many switches we saw, OTON GLASS was somehow different in its nature.
What really struck me about OTON’s worthwhile proposal, was the beauty of of its single-minded, targeted focus, and the great affection behind it. Nothing mattered more than its ease of use and practicality. This gave it an extremely captivating presence. It differed from all our expectations. It really should have been more artistic and esoteric.
But I want to reinterpret this view. I want to see OTON GLASS transformed into a switch that makes everyday life on this planet better. This notion would not stop occurring to me, and I found that my own emotional switch had in fact been firmly pressed.