A fascinating blend of science, technology and design
Mobile phones and computer games consoles now carry sophisticated position detectors, video cameras, face recognition and tracking software, you name it.
And researchers have been looking for new ways to exploit this in other fields like medicine.
Researchers at Oxford University are developing the “bionic glasses” to help partially-sighted people who have just a small area of vision, or whose vision is blurred or cloudy, or who can’t process detailed images, such as they can see that a hand is front of them but they can’t make out the fingers. A good example would be someone with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Dr Stephen Hicks of Oxford University’s Department of Clinical Neurology said in a media statement:
“We want to be able to enhance vision in those who’ve lost it or who have little left or almost none.”
“The glasses should allow people to be more independent – finding their own directions and signposts, and spotting warning signals,” he explained.
The glasses have video cameras at the corners and arrays of tiny lights embedded in the see-through lenses. The camera collects images and feeds them to a smartphone-type computer in the wearer’s pocket which has software that can locate objects or people, and track their position. A feedback mechanism drives the colours and intensities of the lights in the lenses in real time, so the wearer can “see” what is happening in their surroundings well enough to navigate around a room, and pick out relevant objects.
(image: Dr Stephen Hicks)