Augmented reality glasses can now help the legally blind to see again, thanks to a startup called VA-ST. These smart glasses have been named Smart Specs and can help the legally blind to see the outlines of individuals and surrounding objects more accurately. Generally, majority of the people who are classified as legally blind, retain some vision but are unable to pick out any obstacles or faces, mainly in low light. With these AR glasses, such people could use their remaining vision and see again.
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What are Smart Specs?
With Smart Specs, the visual appearance of everyday objects is enhanced. The glasses can detect large obstacles in the dark, like tables, walls, sign posts, doorways, people and other things. Those who are partially blind or have low vision can become more independent and more confident. They will be able to enjoy their life in a better way with these augmented reality Smart Specs.
The remaining vision of the people will be improved along with improvement in visible features and contrast in some cases. People suffering from cloudy vision, tunnel vision, patches of lost sight in the centre or night blindness might get help from Smart Specs.
How do Smart Specs Work?
The visibility of objects which are in proximity is enhanced with a computer program powered by Android along with a 3D camera. A depth sensor and the software conceal the background and bring to light the features and edges of objects so that they can be seen easily. Many of the features work in darkness. One can pause the video or zoom it to get a more detailed view.
VA-ST had conducted a study to understand the working of the glasses where Smart Specs models were loaned to 300 people suffering from different eye conditions. The company says that the consumer model of the Smart Specs will be available at a cost of around $1000.
The prototype has different flaws. Currently it uses Epson Moverio AR glasses hidden under a large plastic frame. It has to be strapped to the wearer’s head and users have to carry a device with them to change the settings. The battery also runs only for eight hours, which means it cannot run for the entire day.
It can be expected that when the final version is released, it will be free from the flaws and can help even legally blind users get back some of their lost vision. This could be a life-changing device for many.
What do you think?
Do you think this AR glass can really be helpful? Should more such devices be developed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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