Nearly 7 million people in the United States lose their sight every year. Everyday tasks that most of us take for granted become more difficult, if not impossible. What was the denomination of that dollar bill you just received in change? What color is that sweater in your drawer, and does it go with the shirt you’re wearing? Fortunately, technology is ready to help.
In conjuction with Verizon, Visus Technology has developed VelaSense software. This multi-function program is designed to help those with impaired vision to complete blindness negotiate their world with more confidence and comfort. It can identify currency denominations and name the color of a scanned object. It can magnify text, and provide a high-legibility interface for email, phone, and other functions. It will soon be able to help users navigate, and will be able to store images of objects and people so that they can be recognized and identified to the user with an audible cue through an earphone. It is available exclusively for Verizon Wireless customers and only on select Android smartphones. The app is free for the first 30 days, but there is a $15 monthly fee after that, which is billed through Verizon as part of the user’s phone service.
This is not a wearable solution, but it’s easy to see how these functions could be easily incorporated into wearable devices, such as a smartwatch that includes a camera feature. This is part of an impressive progression in adaptive technology that is going to pave the way for even more portable solutions that will dissolve into the background of the lives of users with a variety of impairments.