Robots can recognize objects. Robots can detect obstacles in their path. Why can’t we use technology to provide intelligent sight to the vision impaired?
That’s the idea behind Horus, a new system currently in the prototype stage developed by Eyra LTD. It’s abilities are nothing short of miraculous. A headset wraps around the back of the user’s head, much like a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Speakers sit over the ear to provide audible information without blocking out sounds from the environment. One one side, a pair of stereo cameras face forward, viewing whatever is in front of the user. The headset is tethered to a small battery-powered control unit, slightly larger than a typical smartphone. And that’s all it takes to make the magic happen.
If the user holds a book up, text-to-speech technology will recognize the text and start to read it aloud through the earphones. The device can also recognize common objects, and generates audible cues to help a user find a coffee cup or water bottle without assistance. The system can even perform facial recognition, and will announce the presence of people that it recognizes. When moving, the system will detect obstacles and provide audible guidance to avoid them. It will even be able to provide a description of what the camera sees, whether it is a landscape or a photograph.
This personal artificial vision system could provide users with increased independence and mobility. As we make smarter machines, we can expect to see more ways to apply those new technologies to adaptive devices of all sorts.