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Two students from the University of Genoa created a headset that uses cameras to help the visually impaired see and read. This headset looks more like an MP3 player, but is actually a device to help the visually impaired (Via Horus)

 

Machine learning has made everything smarter from our cars to even our houses. The simplest tasks can now be performed with a simple command or tap of a button. But machine learning is not only being used to make our lives easier; it can also help those who are visually impaired. A new startup called Eyra is looking to let the blind see again, so to speak, with a new wearable tech called Horus. The device is a headset with a camera module attached that can help the visually impaired read text and identify objects and people. Right now it still in the very early stages of development, but if the project stays in development it could greatly help the visually impaired.

 

So how does it work? Right now, the prototype is clunky and messy. It uses a pair of Aftershokz headphones with a camera module attached, which has two FHD mobile cameras. This is then connected to a black plastic box via a USB cable, which houses NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 chip and a battery to give you a full day of use. The user puts on the headset and tells it what to do. Currently, it’s programmed to be able to read text and identify objects and people. It can be worn both indoors and outdoors and since all the processing is local, you don’t have to rely on spotty wireless connection to use it.

 

How reading works is the user selects the options and holds the text up to the headset. Then audio cues will appear to help place you in the right position for the camera to start. After a brief pause for processing, it starts reading out the text. Keep in mind, it’s not smooth and perfect. Think of it as those early text-to-speech Microsoft programs. To read out objects and faces the system has to be trained before it can launch the feature on its own. Though it’s still in the early stages, the results are impressive enough. If Horus actually achieves its goal, it can drastically change the lives of the visually impaired. At this time, there’s no word on when the device will be ready for the public.

 

The device was created by two students from the University of Genoa. Their original goal was based around developing a computer system that helps robots navigate. During their research, they realized the technology could be used for other applications. They worked on the portable device for two years and think they’re close to being done. They’re working on adding some new features, like the ability to describe an entire scene to offer users greater vision. Be warned, Horus may have a hefty price. The creators estimate the headset will run between 1,500 ($1,600) and 2,000 Euro ($2119), but as long as it works, it might just be worth it. See more in the video below:

 

 

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