Smart Glasses for Visually Impaired

TURN ON IMAGES to see man wearing high tech glassesResearchers at Oxford University have developed smart glasses intended to aid people with severe loss of sight. The glasses, which enhance an individual’s residual vision, are currently in trial, both in a closed obstacle course setting and in a “real life” trial in the streets of Oxford.

The smart glasses use a set of video cameras that record nearby objects and movement, which are projected onto the glasses lenses with the help of software from a small computer processor. Important depth information about close-by curbs, steps, and people allows the visually impaired person to move around with a much greater degree of freedom. The glasses can also assist in night blindness and picking up facial features.

Funded with the support of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the trials include 30 volunteers who were tested while navigating special obstacle courses. More volunteers navigated typical daily activities in the city itself.

The smart glasses could benefit visually impaired people suffering from a wide range of conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy, and optic neuropathies. The developers hope that in later stages, the technology will look like a regular pair of glasses and cost no more than a smartphone.