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Soccer star Leo Messi named as official ambassador for Israeli start-up OrCam Technologies

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Messi and OrCam are teaming up for a global project to help those who are blind or visually impaired. The project will also focus on increasing awareness of the challenges faced by the blind and visually impaired community globally

By ILANIT CHERNICK

World-famous soccer star Lionel Messi has become an official ambassador for Israeli start-up OrCam Technologies. 

Messi and OrCam are teaming up for a global project to help those who are blind or visually impaired. The project will also focus on increasing awareness of the challenges faced by the blind and visually impaired community globally. 

OrCam Technologies, a leader in personal, AI-driven innovations, said that Messi would be “leading the charge to improve accessibility through OrCam’s breakthrough AI technologies for people who are blind or visually impaired.”

As a component of the project, OrCam said it will arrange for dozens of visually impaired people from around the world to meet with the soccer superstar in order to make a dream come true.

This being “an opportunity to get to know the soccer icon in a face-to-face meeting, as well as receiving from Messi a revolutionary assistive technology solution that will increase their independence in their daily lives, the OrCam MyEye.”

OrCam explained that “every year, Messi will gift the OrCam MyEye to people with inspiring stories who are blind or visually impaired, some of whom he will personally meet in Barcelona. These individuals will each become members of the “OrCam Dream Team,” which will be led by the soccer star.

Co-founder and co-CEO of OrCam, Prof. Amnon Shashua, said that “this is a particularly exciting point in time” for him and for OrCam. 

“The story of OrCam’s founding is, first and foremost, a story of people – people who struggle with real problems and challenges in their lives,” he explained. “Our goal is to use sophisticated ‘AI-as-a-companion’ technology that helps people with disabilities in real-time, in the real world.”

Shashua said that the device offers independence when it comes to every-day tasks and it also provides users “with critical support to better integrate into society, especially within employment and educational settings. 

“This technology supports users in amplifying their inherent potential,” he stressed. “We are convinced that this collaboration with Messi – who is the embodiment of maximizing potential, and an individual who is admired worldwide – will allow us to reach millions of people in need.”

The first meeting between Messi and several new members of the “OrCam Dream Team” took place just prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Messi said that he was deeply moved by the meeting, highlighting that “the emotion was incredible. 

“Meeting with this amazing group of people from around the world was truly a magical and inspiring moment,” he recalled. “Witnessing each of the members of the ‘Dream Team’ trying out the OrCam MyEye features, it was clear that this would be a life-changing device for each of them. 

“I am proud to be an OrCam Ambassador to truly make a difference for so many,” he added.

Soccer star Leo Messi gifts OrCam MyEye to a visually impaired young man.
(Photo Credits: Supplied)

Approximately 300 million people worldwide suffer from blindness or varying degrees of visual impairment. OrCam MyEye helps to dramatically change their quality of life.

Participants in the project come from various different backgrounds and countries world.

According to OrCam, they are blind or have varying degrees of visual impairment. The meeting with the soccer star, and the gifting of the OrCam device, was a complete surprise to them during the first meet and greet event.

OrCam explained that the device is wireless, lightweight and compact and measures the size of a finger.

The way the AI-driven OrCam MyEye artificial vision device works is by discreetly reading printed and digital text – from any surface – out loud, and in real-time, to the device wearer.  This includes the newspapers, books, computer and smartphone screens, restaurant menus, labels on supermarket products, and street signs become instantly accessible. Additional features of OrCam MyEye include instant face recognition and identification of consumer products, colors and money notes.

It’s then magnetically mounted onto the wearer’s glasses frame with the device only weighing only 0.8 ounces.

The device is the only wearable artificial vision technology that is activated by an intuitive pointing gesture or simply by following the wearer’s gaze – allowing for hands-free use – without the need of a smartphone or Wi-Fi, resulting in real-time audio communication while ensuring data privacy.

OrCam MyEye is available in 25 languages and in 50 countries.

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