For The Blind, A Pair Of Really Smart Glasses

Oxford University researchers are currently testing the device, which captures images and puts them on transparent LED displays, on people who retain some ability to perceive light and motion.

What's the Latest Development?

Oxford University researchers recently received the Royal Society's Brian Mercer Innovation Award for a set of "smart glasses" that will hopefully make it easier for blind people to navigate. The glasses capture images from cameras embedded in the corners and display them on transparent LED "lenses," while software helps translate text into speech that's delivered via a set of headphones. The glasses also contain GPS and a gyroscope to help measure orientation. The researchers will use the award money to continue testing and development.

What's the Big Idea?

In the UK alone, 300,000 people are legally registered as blind, and another two million suffer from impaired vision. Many still have some ability to perceive motion and light, and it's these people who will benefit most from the device, says researcher Stephen Hicks: "This is the beginning of a golden age for computer vision. [The award] will allow us sight-impaired people deal with everyday situations much more easily." Future functions planned include the ability to read bus numbers and deliver GPS directions through the headphones.

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