Let’s face it; gadgets, hardware, and devices are sexy. Software and user interfaces (UIs) don’t often get much attention, at least not until we’re confronted with faulty software and an awkward UI. Even though software does the heavy lifting of making sense of or converting impulses and digits, the interface can make or break the experience by providing an attractive, intuitive way to control what the hardware does. The best UI would be totally transparent; it would be so natural that you wouldn’t even be aware of it. It would let you do whatever you wanted to do to the point that you would soon take it for granted.
When we choose Health Tech to cover on this site, most often we select hardware devices. When we write about Health Tech for the blind or visually impaired, we typically focus on hardware such as Orcam Technologies’ Orcam, Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses, and the JINS MEME glasses. But software matters, especially when the overall product — the hardware, power, connectivity, software, and user interface — is brought together to assist people who have problems seeing.
Vision Technologies Ltd’s Give-Vision is the software engine currently powering prototypes of the Vuzik M100 Smart Glasses and Lumus DK-40 Smart Glasses. Give-Vision is written by sighted and blind software developers, based on the principle of independence. The goal is to create an experience that enables people with vision challenges to complete common tasks: read, travel, shop, recognize people, and carry about what fully sighted people take for granted as a normal range of activities. Used in conjunction with smartphones and various vision-enhancing devices, Give-Vision uses facial and object recognition, text to speech, and magnification to scan the surrounding area and let the user know what’s there, what’s happening, and how to get where they’re walking or moving by announcing distances and directions.
Give-Vision is still in development, with programmers working on both the features and the user interface. The project is designed to be device independent in the sense that the software can be adapted to the features and capabilities of the hardware with which it is run. The company is seeking volunteers to participate in the user trials, with an application link on the website: www.give-vision.com.