Smart glasses help the visually impaired 'see'

New protoype using infra-red cameras and real-time image processing has let legally blind individual see their guide dogs for the first time

Researchers from Oxford University have created a pair of ‘smart glasses’ that allow severely visually impaired individuals to ‘see’ again.

The technology amplifies wearer's residual sight by combining video from a pair of normal and infra-red cameras, processing these images in real time and projecting hem onto the glasses’ lens.

Individuals who have tested the prototype reported massive improvements in their vision, with one wearer, 70-year-old Lyn Oliver, able to navigate a busy covered market without assistance.

Oxford University’s Dr Stephen Hicks, one of the leads on the project, told the BBC: “If you're walking around you're able to navigate doorways, and see hazards on the floor that might trip you up. So you can become more independent and walk around with greater ease."

The prototype glasses are bulky - but researchers hope to slim them down dramatically in the next couple of years.

Dr Hicks said that people “loved” the glasses: “They remark how much they can see now,” he said. “They can see details in faces, they can see their own hands. People have commented how they've seen their guide dog for the first time. It's a real enabler."

The invention could help the nearly 100,000 UK citizens who are registered as blind but can still see light as a smudgy and indistinct blur on their vision. The Royal National Institute of Blind People described the glasses as “incredibly important”.

The glasses are currently bulky and rely on an attached computer stored in a backpack to process the images, but researchers are hoping that the technology will be miniaturized swiftly. Scientists are hoping that they can bring the cost of the device down to that of a mobile phone and are planning to create a first batch of 100 sets before the end of the year for further research.

Iain Cairns tries out the glasses while a laptop shows what he is seeing.

Iain Cairns, 43, also tested out the device, describing the experience as “having a sixth sense, an extra superpower – knowing where to look and pick out objects. It’s very exciting.

He added that the combination of cameras built into the glasses creates an image similar to the famous sketch-effects of a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ music video.

“I can see your face,” said Cairns to journalists. “It’s […] like the Lord of the Rings when he puts the ring on and sees things in a new way. That tablecloth is looking lovely. It’s getting the pattern of the tablecloth.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

    Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

    £35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Internal Project Manager - Business Analyst, Financial Services

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the best known and most pr...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve