Scientist who invented glasses that help blind to ‘see’ wins £50,000 award

Stephen Hicks said that the prize money will be used to develop the glasses further

A scientist who has invented a pair of intelligent spectacles that can help the blind to “see” with simple visual images and descriptions of nearby signs and objects has won a major scientific prize.

Stephen Hicks of the University of Oxford said that the £50,000 prize money will be used to develop the glasses further so that they become a cheap and effective way for partially-sighted people to navigate through public places.

Computer-aided vision has in the past concentrated on the high-tech and expensive use of tiny silicon chips that can be implanted into the eye to provide a stronger visual signal to the light-sensitive cells of the retina.

However, Dr Hicks' device does not involve invasive medical procedures and can be worn on the nose like ordinary glasses, making it simpler, cheaper and safer than chip implants.

The smart glasses use tiny cameras and software to recognise nearby objects and to project them in a simple and intuitive way onto the lenses of a pair of glasses, which act like personal movie screens to the partially sighted.

“My research aim is to improve functional vision for people with severely impaired sight. Over 300,000 people in the UK are registered as blind,” Dr Hicks said.

“We are developing a pair of smart glasses that might be able to help people to use their remaining vision to see and avoid obstacles and enjoy increased independence,” he said.

The idea is that the glasses would help the wearers to recognise everyday objects, such as a bus stop, doorway or personal item, and to identify them as such rather than just highlighting them as potential obstacles.

Cameras embedded into the glasses can project recognisable images onto the glasses or, in the future, convert real text, such as words on a sign, timetable or a bus number, into audible speech, Dr Hicks said.

“This is the beginning of a golden age for computer vision. We are seeing smart recognition technology in everything from cameras and mobile phones to self-driving cars,” Dr Hicks said.

“The latest research enables computers not only to see single objects like faces and words but understand whole scenes,” he said.

The Brian Mercer Innovation prize awarded to the smart spectacles is organised by the Royal Society.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee