Google Glass, the augmented reality assistant in the form of an omnipresent glass eye, failed largely because of the anxiety it created. In San Francisco, Glass wearers were quickly mocked, and Google reluctantly went back to the drawing board.
The idea, however, won’t die. At the International CES in Las Vegas next week, OrCam, an Israeli technology company, will introduce a Siri-styleÂ assistant meant to watch the world around you and offer helpful advice. OrCam was founded by Amnon Shashua, a computer scientist who also founded Mobileye, a maker of intelligent automotive cameras.
Like Google Glass, the OrCam MyMe will speak to you through a Bluetooth earpiece. However, rather than hanging suspended above your eye, the MyMe camera is a pendant designed to clip unobtrusively on your shirt or perhaps your belt.
The idea is to provide the wearer with a computerizedÂ assistant offeringÂ “augmented attention” that, for example, analyzes facial expressions or automatically catalogs all of the food you eat. In Dr. Shashua’s view, MyMe will be a “quantified self”-style digital recorder on steroids.
Significantly, he believes that OrCam has solved the privacy puzzle that stumped Google. Â The device will provide the user with personalized information but it will not save any digital image or record sounds. All of the data processing will be done on the fly. As a result, the people you meet will not be recorded, he said.
“I believe this will reduce privacy concerns significantly,” he said. “I suspect there will be a discourse on privacy, but given the safeguards I think it can be contained.”
One of the most interesting potential applications will be MyMe’s ability to generate a “word cloud” from a conversation without actually recording the conversation itself. The idea is that you would be able to later gather insights to your interactions with people in a less invasive and more useful manner.
Dr. Shashua should not be underestimated. In July 2014, Mobileye issued the largest United States initial public offering of shares in history for an Israeli company and the company is now valued at $ 9.14 billion. Mobileye is a significant technology provider for many of the world’s carmakers, including General Motors, BMW and Volvo.
OrCam introduced a prototype of a reading device for the visually impaired in 2013. The device, which also communicates with the user via an earpiece, is intended to make it possible to read everything from street signs to newspapers.
Dr. Shashua plans to introduce the MyMe technology at the CES show and soon after offer it as a development system to encourage independent software designers to develop applications using the basic technologies.
He said he expected MyMe to be available for consumers in the fall of 2016. The company has not announced a price.