Several companies have designed smart glasses for improving the sight for the blind and visually impaired. These “smart” glasses are bound to revolutionize the world by providing visually impaired individuals with functional sight.
Development of Smart Glasses
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 285 million people are either visually impaired or blind worldwide. Nearly 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. Some begin to lose vision as they naturally age, while others lose their eyesight as a result of illness or genetics. Emerging smart glasses technology is helping the visually impaired see.
eSight Smart Glasses
The Toronto-based company known as eSight began developing a pair of smart glasses to improve the vision of impaired individuals. These glasses feature a visor-like headset situated on top of what appears to be a normal set of frames. These can be easily recharged and last up to eight hours.
Each set of glasses has a high-speed, high-definition camera that “sees” what the wearer is looking at. It then enhances the images and displays the video through the OLED screens (“lenses”) in front of the user’s eyes. In real time, the cameras improve the footage across the screens, along with a 24-times zoom to enhance video footage.
These glasses are customizable, meaning the wearer can control magnification, color, and contrast. It also has Wi-Fi and HDMI features. With these technological advances, the user can read signs, books, watch television, and see many other things they normally would be unable to see.
Samsung Electronics’ Relúmĭno glasses take advantage of the Samsung Gear VR system to help the visually impaired to see more clearly. These glasses depend on the Relúmĭno app and the Gear VR hardware to improve vision with four different modes: Display Color Filter Mode, Partial Vision Mode, Color Invert Mode, and Regular Mode.
These modes help the user by making blurry images more clear, displaying text in a high color contrast, correct for central vision loss, or reducing glare caused by a certain color. Samsung is currently working on a new set of glasses that will use the same type of technology but without the Gear VR form factor.
AIRA is another set of glasses that are only available in the U.S. but hopes to become available in many other countries. These glasses are different from the eSight glasses because the user is connected to a trained individual. This assistant gives them spoken feedback depending on what the person is viewing. They help the user to identify objects, read signs, with navigating, and other tasks.
Like eSight’s glasses, this unit is constructed for those with low or no vision. These operate on an Android system, includes magnification up to 12-times, and are customizable. You can change the colors and contracts. It also features a bar/QR code scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) that can recognize and speak out printed documents. Control them with a wireless controller or voice commands.
Future of Smart Glasses
The only thing standing in the way of those who could benefit from this technology is the price. Unfortunately, these can cost up to $15,000 out-of-pocket if your insurance company doesn’t help foot the bill. Lowering the cost of these glasses will make all the difference in significantly improving the lives of the visually impaired and blind.