At the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition, from July 5th to the 10th, in London will show case some of the latest cutting edge technology. One device in particular will let the vision impaired see in a whole new way. A pair of glasses packed with the power of a smartphone developed by Dr Stephen Hicks of the Department of Clinical Neurology, Oxford University, will "enhance vision in those who’ve lost it or who have little left or almost none."
Hicks and his team at Oxford have taken technology from phones and games paired with video cameras, object tracking and face recognition software, and depth sensors in a pair of modern looking frames. Early prototypes had a matrix of LEDs in the lenses to provide additional information of what is in front of the user. In the near future the glasses will use optical character recognition, and could relay test from signs or newspapers audibly through built in earpieces. Dr Hicks sees the glasses costing approximately $800 USD. (Dr Hick stated that seeing eye dogs costs up to $50,000 [USD])
Dr Hick's exhibit at the Summer Science Exhibition will demonstrate how the technology will work and give the visitors a chance to experience how the glasses will relay information. A large screen will be on the floor showing tracking software in operation. Another area will let visitors wear special goggles, with built in screens, to use the tracking information to navigate through a set of tasks. Dr Hicks summarized, "The primary aim is to simulate the experience of a visual prosthetic to give people an idea of what can be seen and how it might look."
The Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition is a free event to attend. So, if anyone is in London over the next week. Stop by Dr Stephen Hick and Oxford's booth and take some pictures. Let us know what it is like to wear the glasses.