Introducing the AngelEye Smart Reader

Devices that can read on your behalf have been around for some time and come in all shapes and sizes; from applications that work on smartphones, through to specialist desktop, portable and wearable devices.
In this blog, Mark from our Digital Team, reviews the AngelEye wearable smart reader device.

Introduction to smart readers

For those people reading this blog that don’t already know smart readers use OCR, which stands for Optical Character Recognition.  In simple terms, the device uses its camera to recognise characters, like letters, words, and numbers, then instantly converts them into the spoken word. Some OCR devices can do much more, like recognise faces or barcodes too.

We are fans of this type of technology since it’s early inception, so we have a good range of blogs and videos on the subject. Check out this video when we put some devices to the test!

You can find out more about some of the products featured in the video in our online shop, such as the Optelec Smart Reader and the OrCam Read, or visit the Sight and Sound Technology website.

With so many smart readers already on the market, does the world need another OCR device? Absolutely! Competition drives innovation and can sometimes influence the price, making the devices more affordable.

The AngelEye smart reader

AngelEye is a new wearable smart reader produced by a company called NextVPU.  The company produce Artificial Intelligence (AI) vision products for robots, drones and cars, and have now developed their technology for people with low vision or no vision.

Before you read on, the manufacturers have not yet introduced the Angel Eye to the UK market!

Mark wearing an AngelEye device

The product is a small device with a camera in it that sits on the side of any pair of glasses, similar to other AI smart glasses. It uses Artificial Intelligence to take a picture of text and reads it out through a small speaker into the wearers ear.

I tried the glasses for the first time and was impressed with some of its features.

The device is very simple and easy to use. It only has one button to press (to power on and off) and a sensor down the side to access the functions on the device, similar to gestures on a smartphone.
Once charged it sits easily on the side of the glasses, using a bracket and strong magnets. The device does not need an internet connection to work, so can be used anywhere.

Reading text with the AngelEye

The device automatically scans the environment for text.  Once it sees some, it gives clear directions on how to position the text (such as move text up or move text to the right). Once positioned the device automatically takes a picture and reads the text out. The text reader can also be activated by tapping the sensor on the side.

The text is processed fast and the voice is clear, however it is a little tinny. The reading can be easily paused and resumed by pressing the power button.

I tried the device on lots of different types of text and the results varies. On standard text such as books, magazines and newspapers the results were really good. The accuracy rate was high and performed well even with very small text. It managed columns well. It struggled a little in low light, but was good with good lighting.

The device was able to easily read one of my bank statements, however it read in columns rather than across the boxes, which made it difficult to match specific transactions.

The device also worked really well when reading from electronic devices. I was able to read word documents easily on my laptop screen, and newspaper articles on my iPad.

When reading multi-media format text such as leaflets, food packaging, etc. it didn’t perform so well. I tried the device on a range of food packaging product in my kitchen and it struggled to read them accurately. It could pick out standard text words, but struggled with words with any spacing or non-standard text type. However, reading standard text on the back of packages worked well.

Performance of the AngelEye

The device was really straight-forward and easy to use. Both entering and leaving the settings menu was really easy, and it is very quick and easy to alter the settings such as voice type, reading speed, and volume.

The device was really easy to connect to a Bluetooth device (headset or speakers), and this made the sound quality much better.

The battery lasted comparatively well, but seemed to drop from 50% to 10% in a short space of time.

Summary of AngelEye

For people with no vision this seems like a good reliable device which will easily read standard text in books, newspapers, magazines and even from an electronic device. It is easy to set up and use.

However, it is not as sleek and attractive, nor has it got the additional features such as voice activation, product recognition, and face recognition that other devices have. It also omitted one feature that we believe is essential, and that is having its own light source to illuminate the items you are trying read.

From our observations, the AngleEye is reliable and produces good results, most of the time. As a wearable piece of OCR it does carry an attractive price point of around £1800, which is significantly cheaper than other products.

That said, if you are just looking for a standalone, portable OCR device you can not go wrong with the OrCam Read in my opinion.

Further support

If you need help with technology that can aid your independence and skills, our specialist Digital Team are here to help.  Read more about the services we offer here, or call us on 0300 222 5555 or email info@henshaws.org.uk to discuss how we can help.

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Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.