Researchers at Oxford University are developing smart glasses designed to help people with impaired vision. They are conducting trials with various prototype systems to see how they can most effectively help those with limited eyesight. The project was recently selected as one of the winners of the Google Global Impact Challenge | UK, and the £500,000 award will make it possible for them to build up to 100 pairs of smart glasses that they will be able to loan to users.
The system works with a pair of infra-red cameras (along with an infra-red light source) that augment the wearer’s vision. The two cameras provide distance information, and can produce stereoscopic 3D images. The images are processed to help make shapes and patterns more visible to the wearer. This processed image is displayed on transparent OLED display lenses, so that it appears in addition to field of view the person may have. The glasses also can transmit sound, which could be used to provide alerts about potential collisions with obstacles, or could even be used to provide real time text recognition and conversion into speech. The glasses also include a gyroscope for head tracking, a compass for orientation, and a GPS for location information.
In their preliminary trials, the researchers have found that users with low levels of vision seem to be helped the most by the glasses. The group hopes to be able to miniaturize the components and make the available at a price that is affordable for the average user.
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