Wearable health tech isn’t new. If anyone asks who in their right mind would consent to wear techy gadgets voluntarily, the safest answer would be: “Probably you.” Approximately 78% of U.S. adults (194 million of an adult population of 248 million) wear health tech every day in the form of eyeglasses or contact lenses, according to The Vision Council. It’s an easy leap to incorporate additional technologies in eyewear, especially eyeglasses (but don’t rule out the contact lens for beefed-up payloads). We’ve written about brainwave-sensing glasses, Google Glass implementations including the Autism Glass Project, smart glasses that assess concussions, and more.
Ocutrx Medical steps beyond Augmented Reality (AR) with Oculenz glasses that employ Computer-Mediated Reality (CMR) to manipulate the wearer’s perception of reality to improve the eyesight of visually impaired users. The Oculenz headset and lenses weigh less than 200 grams (about 7 ounces, or about the weight of a roll of nickels). A separate dongle component holds a controller and a battery. The headset has min-HDMI and USB-C connectors plus Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for untethered wear. The batteries for both components can be recharged separately.
The primary for Oculenz at this time is on age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and other central eye defects. The system’s CMR software manipulates image pixels on the fly to compensate for specific retinal damage and give patients “functional vision.” This effectively moves the image away from the areas in the eye that have compromised vision, and moves it to the areas that still retain some sight function.
In addition to aiding vision in real time, Oculenz has three additional features. Patients can set the glasses mode to Diagnostics Mode to self-adjust pixel manipulation. If the system detects severe vision change while in Diagnostic Mode, an alert is sent by Oculenz directly to the patient’s physician. Oculenz Sentrx Object Recognition will audibly alert the wearer to obstacles such as furniture, curbs, and stairs.
Today’s Oculenz system requires a bulky headset, albeit nothing as large as the early virtual and augmented reality helmets. In time, continued component miniaturization could lead to a device that is small enough that most people won’t recognize that the user is wearing a complex device that compensates for their impaired vision.