The Longevity

New Technologies Help the Visually Impaired “See”

Consumer artificial reality and virtual reality are just beginning to take off, with developers and designers investing heavily in the field and with several companies beginning to offer consumer-oriented AR and VR devices at a (relatively) affordable price point.

As these technologies continue to advance, Ginna Baik wrote an article for HealthTech Magazine about how new and advancing technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, are providing better “vision” to those with visual impairments. One of the stand-out contenders, Samsung’s app Relúmĭno, pairs with VR glasses to provide the vision-impaired user with a more complete version of their surroundings.

At the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung unveiled Relúmĭno, an app designed to take advantage of virtual reality by pairing with Gear VR to help people with visual impairments perform tasks such as reading, viewing images and watching videos. According to a New Atlas article, the Relúmĭno app also helps people with blind spots in their field of vision by showing “the obscured part of the image somewhere else,” and by using an Amsler grid chart to straighten out lines that appear wavy for sufferers of metamorphopsia.

At CES 2018 in Las Vegas in January, Samsung unveiled its own glasses to go along with the app, with the idea that such technology can be more comfortable and discreet. According to Samsung, “the glasses work in conjunction with a smartphone … The smartphone processes images from videos projected through the camera of the glasses, and the processed images are floated into the display of the Relúmĭno glasses to help the wearer see things better.”

Baik suggests that Samsung’s app could be particularly impactful if the company chooses to combine high-tech approaches with a strong aesthetic sensibility, as VSP Global has done with their activity-tracking smart glasses.

VSP Global’s Level smart glasses, launched last month, also look to combine “traditional eyewear craftsmanship” with user performance. The frames, tested by USC researchers, are embedded with technology that allows wearers to track their steps and calories burned, as well as distance and total activity time.

While it may seem like a small step, marrying functionality and fashion significantly increases the chances that consumers will adopt the technology.

Another major player is Google Glass, which is more widely known for the services it provides for clinicians, although the device has also been used to provide assistance for individuals with vision impairment.

Google Glass has been part of this conversation for five years, particularly regarding clinicians’ use. Publicly announced in 2012 and released in 2013, the specs have been used for everything from assisting surgeons in the operating room to allowing physicians to more quickly and easily view and transcribe electronic health records…

Additionally, Glass is being deployed to help individuals who are blind or have low vision navigate their surroundings.

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