MedGizmo - MedGizmo Update: Wearable Technology for Visually Impaired – August 2016
05.08.2016, 17:27   MedGizmo

MedGizmo Update: Wearable Technology for Visually Impaired – August 2016

 According to the World Health Organization, (as of August 2014) 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind, and 246 have low vision. An estimated 19 million children are visually impaired. Refractive errors, cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are just a few of the causes that lead to visually impairment or blindness.

I completely agree with the point of view of the U.S. National Federation of the Blind that “…encourages persons to consider themselves to be blind if their sight is bad enough—even with corrective lenses—that they must use alternative methods to engage in any activity that persons with normal vision would do using their eyes.” According to the Federation stats, in the United States the number of non-institutionalized, male or female, ages 16 through 75+, all races, regardless of ethnicity, with all education levels in the United States reported to have a visual disability in 2013 – are over 7 million.

Everyone understands that the life of people with visual impairment is rather tough. As Abraham Vargheese mentions in his paper Defeating Visual Impairment with the power of Wearable Technology  “The problems that blind people face on a daily basis are numerous. It includes:
- Access to Information — mail, computers, media, warning systems
- Obtaining or maintaining employment
-  Websites and software applications which are not designed or coded to work with assistive technologies, such as screen readers or screen magnifiers”
And many others… Read more here

Way back in February this year, we provided MedGizmo: Wearable Assistive Devices for Visually Impaired – Update where we have an excellent link to a theoretical paper on the subject, as well as information on the following devices: Microsoft Cities Unlocked; OrCam-MyEye; DOT: the first braille smartwatch; Fingerreader - a wearable interface for reading on-the-go; eSight Electronic glasses; SmartSpecs Glasses; Linspace 3D-Printed Display for the blind. In this post, we are looking at some newly emerged solutions.

A British Give Vision company develops software that transforms smart glasses to act as eyes for Blind people. “We have been working tirelessly to develop the potential of smart glasses, with the right applications, to change the landscape of visual impairment.” Their new product the SightPlus – virtual reality style goggle is going to alter completely the way that people with sight loss can access everything


Seeing AI Project
In collaboration with Microsoft, Pivothead is working on bringing "vision" to the visually-impaired.
Wearable Glasses for the Visually-Impaired – Pivothead & Microsoft
By combining APIs from Microsoft Cognitive Services with the imaging performance and power of Pivothead SMART, a person who is visually-impaired can better understand who and what is going on around them. While wearing the glasses, the user swipes the touch panel on the eyewear to take a photo. The eyewear will analyze and translate the image to speech and describe what the person is doing, how old they are, and what emotion they're expressing. A user can take an image of text - from a nutrition label to a news article - and the eyewear will read it to the user. Read more HERE

Here is how Microsoft illustrates what Seeing AI analyzes and tells what it sees:

The project "A Mobility and Navigational Aid for Visually Impaired Persons" wants to help visually impaired persons to orient themselves in new environments using computer-aided vision. Research group around Professor Rainer Stiefelhagen at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) develops TERRAIN system that relies on mobile devices such as smartphones or smart watches. The usability of these devices for people having a sight impairment is steadily improving, and they provide important technologies such as GPS or voice input and output. Read more HERE

 Le Chal Haptic Shoes for the Blind

Haptic or vibratory feedback is how your smart footwear guides you, allowing you to navigate intuitively and hands-free. The vibrations are like a tap on your shoulder, and you can control their intensity. The user enters their destination in Google Maps on a smartphone that is running the Le Chal App. The shoe then guides them to their destination using a series of vibrations. A vibration on the front means that they should continue foreword, a vibration on the left means that they should turn left, and so on. Lechal counts steps, calories and measures the distance traveled. It logs your activity so that you can keep track of your fitness.

OxSight ‘SmartSpecs’

Augmented reality display system built to allow people with severe visual impairment make sense of their surroundings by simplifying the ambient light and translating it into shapes and shades that allow them to discern physical objects within their physical environment. Current development has focused on individuals who retina some light perception (85% of people who are registered blind) and work best for people who retain some central vision such as those with retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and some forms of glaucoma.

SpiderSense Tactile Suit

Allows you to feel the environment around you on your own skin. Improves the quality of life of visually impaired people. It eventually becomes their sixth sense, allowing them to see through their skin. Sensors embedded in the suit scan the environment for people, walls and obstacles around them. SpiderSense vibrates to the direction of any objects: vibration increases as they come closer and decreases as they get further away. You feel exactly where the obstacle is. You can then navigate safely. Features: 360 coverage; 10 feet range; Rechargeable battery; 12 vibrating sensors.
ViaOpta Nav

The aim of this app is to allow a blind/low vision person to move independently thanks to the ability to walk to a destination starting from their position and have information useful to facilitate their orientation while moving. This information is provided and adapted taking into consideration the peculiar needs of a blind/low vision pedestrian and the app user interface is simple and easy to use. The user can enter a destination and get the turn by turn directions from their current position to that destination. Way-points can be added to improve the effectiveness of the calculated route. While moving the app will also give information on next junctions as well as distances and directions. At any time the user can query the app for their position and get it in terms of street address. A list of junctions around the user, with the corresponding distances and bearings, can also be obtained. Information relevant to the user mobility is provided by using the Text To Speech (even if no screen-reader is running). This app may run in background mode and use the location service, in case the navigation to a point is set. The use of background GPS may draw heavily on your device battery. Use this feature only as needed.

Bionic Vision Restoration System

PixiumVision IRIS® Bionic Vision Restoration System - implant and headpiece system that is set to restore vision among people who have lost the ability to see. The goggles use neuromodulation, which stimulates the nervous system with electricity from a chip to restore sight. Delivers light and shape perception, to localize objects giving the patient the ability to negotiate unfamiliar environments. Epi-retinal implant (attached on the surface of the retina); 150 electrodes; designed for expandability; powered by induction. Currently in the clinical trial.


CheilSpain Samsung Blind Cap

Swimming cap equipped with the vibrating sensor and Bluetooth technology to alert blind swimmers at the precise moment they need to do a turn.


Wearable mobility device to help blind and visually impaired experience more of the world around them. Projected functions: detect surrounding objects, including signage, and identify restrooms, escalators, stairs, elevators, doors, exit signs, and familiar storefront logos; enable users to better explore indoor spaces, including airports, office buildings or shopping malls. The current prototype is a hands-free, horseshoe-shaped device that sits around the user's shoulders, so it's both easy to wear and unobtrusive. Will be equipped with cameras that detect surroundings and will interact with the user through voice recognition, buttons, speakers, and vibration. Beta testing will begin soon

PARSEE Glasses for Blind People

Addressed to people with vision disability who have access to mobile network and possess a smartphone. With this solution they will explore the world as sighted people perceive it. An IP camera connected to simple 3D printed frame communicates with a mobile device where our mobile app identifies text, color, shape or face which will output in sound to earphones attached to the frame.  Features: Text Recognition; Face Recognition; Shapes & Items Recognition; Color Recognition.

Horus Wearable Device for Blind and Visually Impaired

Horus Technology wearable observes, understands and describes the environment to the person, providing useful information in a discreet way and with the right timing. Reading texts, recognizing objects, faces and also pedestrian crossings and obstacles. Using bone conduction, the hearing of the person is in no way affected (as opposed to using earphones) and it will be possible to hear the device even in noisy situations.

LiveBraille Mini IN fully wearable ETA (Electronic Travel Aid) Wearable ‘Ring’

Assists visually impaired to navigate in the world.  Weighs 34 Grams; uses ultrasonic sensing at 50Hz: device senses object 50 times a second - helps track the fastest objects including fast moving cars; information is relayed to the user in the form of haptic feedback; sensing range of 4.5m in long range mode, 1.2m in close range mode.

This concludes our Overview. We encourage readers to follow out daily MedGizmo Twitter Feed @MedGizmo; Instagram Feed @MedGizmo where we provide daily updates on wearable technology, as well our Education Technology Twitter Feed @MedGizmo_ed

05.08.2016, 17:27   MedGizmo
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