Smart glasses that help the blind see
These specs do more than bring blurry things into focus. This prototype pair of smart glasses translates visual information into images that blind people can see.
Many people who are registered as blind can perceive some light and motion. The glasses, developed by Stephen Hicks of the University of Oxford, are an attempt to make that residual vision as useful as possible.
They use two cameras, or a camera and an infrared projector that can detect the distance to nearby objects. They also have a gyroscope, a compass and GPS to help orient the wearer.
The collected information can be translated into a variety of images on the transparent OLED displays, depending on what is most useful to the person sporting the shades. For example, objects can be made clearer against the background, or the distance to obstacles can be indicated by the varying brightness of an image.
Hicks has won the Royal Society's Brian Mercer Award for Innovation for his work on the smart glasses. He plans to use the £50,000 prize money to add object and text recognition to the glasses' abilities.