Helping the Blind See
Anna is a sales person for eSight Technologies, she is a bubbly 30ish woman and became an instant expert in the eSight Intelligent Eyewear. She has a great smile and is very bright, warm and articulate. I had just seen here participate in a panel discussion with a group of industry experts, and by far, she was the most interesting. She walked up on stage with the other guests, and was completely comfortable speaking. And yes, Anna is legally blind with only 2% of her vision.
This story starts some 20 years before that though, when Anna was twelve, she started loosing her sight and soon had only peripheral vision, and not much of that. What does a teenager and then a young adult do in life with a significant visual impairment? Books are huge and slow to read. A job is really out of the question. In short, at a young age Anna was left with a life where she could attain some independence but was facing very limited opportunities. Anna found the courage to use her abilities and studied art, and became somewhat independent.
A few years ago, Conrad Lewis and I met at a conference. He told me of his plan to develop a set of computer based glasses which would allow legally blind people to see. We talked about my involvement and I was very interested. I had been building weapons systems for years and this seemed far more worthwhile. At the time, we didn’t have a match, the project went forward without me and I went off to build Internet of Things and wearable devices using the Unison Operating System.
Three years ago, a colleague, Frank Jones, called me and we talked about the company Conrad had founded, eSight. The net result of the conversation was that the Unison OS, RoweBots product, was used in the new eSight Intelligent Eyewear. It was not without its challenges; however, for all of us it was about building a better world, not about profit.
eSight Intelligent Eyewear is now in production and is helping many people see everything around them. For Anna, it was a new life that she received. From an unemployable, fully disabled artist with little income, in a few short months, she became completely independent, with a good job and the ability to experience so much more in the world. Now she teaches others about her experience and helps others make the steps that she has already made.
You can see Anna on stage and us together after this meeting ended. I wish her and all the folks at eSight huge success in the future. Myself, I struggled rebuilding my life several times with significant disabilities and what she said really resonated with me. It takes superhuman effort and commitment to overcome obstacles that normal people find insignificant
After I walked away, I thought to myself, like so many really essential prostheses and other medical devices, OHIP, the Ministry of Health or Health Canada do not cover the cost of this. It is so unfortunate that we have to leave the management of people’s mental well being and quality of life in the hands of bureaucrats devoid of common sense. Anyone with any sense can see that enabling these individuals as soon as possible is the best for them and society in general. The same is true for many other items which are not covered.