If someone has difficulty hearing, they can use a hearing aid to boost the level of sounds reaching their ear. If someone has limited vision to the point that they're considered legally blind, however, it's not like they can just use an electronic "seeing aid" ... right? Actually, that's just what eSight is.
The eSight system consists of a frame that houses the user's prescription lenses, over top of which lies a headset containing an HD video camera and two LCD screens, along with a hand-held hard-wired control unit.
The camera sends live footage of whatever is in front of the user, to the controller. Using a combination of algorithms and the user's own preferred settings, the video image is enhanced to compensate for their particular vision problem. That altered video is then sent back to the headset, and displayed on the two screens (one in front of either eye) in real time.
If the user needs to tweak the video, they can also use the control unit to adjust parameters such as contrast, focus and brightness. Additionally, they can zoom in objects or grab freeze frames.
In situations where the video feature isn't wanted, the headset can be flipped up and out of the line of sight.
According to its makers, eSight is best suited for users with visual acuity between 20/60 and 20/400 (legal blindness being 20/200). It's now available for prospective buyers to try out at select low-vision clinics in the US and Canada. Those buyers had better have deep pockets or financial assistance, though – the limited-time introductory price is US$9,750.
More information on how the system works is available in the video below.