Sure, Google Glass looks cool but for the partially-sighted or blind, it does nothing especially with how small the visible display is. Enter Oxford University with a hefty pair of glasses that might actually help those with low-vision see.
On first glance, the eyewear looks pretty cumbersome. But that's because of what it's made of - a video camera mounted on the frame, a pocket-sized CPU and transparent electronic displays where the lenses are. While it won't restore or replace lost vision, the glasses help with spatial awareness so the users can make the most of their existing vision. Additional images will also pop up to give extra information about who or what is in their line of sight.
For those with low vision or severe night blindness, the glasses could be a very big help.
Less stumbling, more seeing
Blindness doesn't necessarily mean a person can't see at all. Many who are legally blind can see a little, but not enough to manage without assistance. With the smart glasses, things that would be hard to see would be detectable without a cane or guide dog.
Oxford researchers found people got used to the glasses quickly enough and those who really benefited were the people with the lowest vision - the glasses helped them see obstacles early on and avoid them.
Oxford researcher Dr Stephen Hicks who is leading the development of the glasses said: "We eventually want to have a product that will look like a regular pair of glasses and cost no more than a few hundred pounds - about the same as a smart phone."
So far the glasses have been tested around Oxford and Cambridge by 30 volunteers with low vision. Currently the group has received further funding to add other features such as audio prompts and face, object and text recognition.
No word as to when or if the devices will be commercially available but still, it's pretty good news for the folks who need help just crossing the street. In the meantime, some companies are also releasing products for the blind including braille phones.