Smart glasses such as the much-maligned Google Glass suffered a false start in the consumer market that tarnished the concept temporarily. When developers who assumed the highest and best use of augmented or enhanced reality (AR or ER)  was to give people a way to hang a monitor in front of their face, thoughts of Terminator 2 and the glasses’ geeky appearance did little to raise positive tech awareness. While enterprise use of AR devices continues to grow rapidly, consumer use still lags behind. Vuzix Corporation, a major player in smart glasses technology, recently made headlines by highlighting an infinitely more appropriate and compassionate application of enhanced vision.

Vuzix donated a Cyber Eyez Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses package to a Pennsylvania high school student who was born with optic nerve hypoplasia. People with this condition have severely undeveloped optic nerves. To read or write, they must be within inches of the object they are trying to see. The student attends the Portage Area Junior-Senior High School, which had equipped several classrooms with costly desktop-sized camera-monitor devices that she could use to see what was going on in the room. Not all rooms were set up with the huge devices. The student now uses the Vuzix smart glasses with Cyber Eyez software. Cyber Eyez adds helpful enhancements such as read-aloud text, object and color recognition, and barcode scanning specifically for product recognition. Another program feature informs the person wearing the glasses of others’ moods by analyzing facial expressions.

We’ve written about Vuzix smart glasses previously. In addition to consumer and industrial applications, the glasses are provided to American veterans.The goal for the glasses donated to the Pennsylvania student is to enable significantly greater independence so she will not have to rely on desktop viewers. Smart glasses with enhanced reality software hold tremendous potential to help people with profound vision disorders.