Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Blind

Multi-sensory 3D maps give spoken directions and building information when touched, along ...

Getting around unfamiliar public spaces can be tough even with all your senses, but if you can't see where you're going it's downright intimidating. A new multi-sensory model promises a brighter future, though, with 3D maps that give spoken directions and building information when touched. The technology comes courtesy of a collaboration between tactile-graphics company Touch Graphics and the University of Buffalo's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and while it was designed specifically to help visually-impaired people, it's also meant to show off the potential of tangible touch interfaces.  Read More

The Microsoft-developed technology aims to provide those with blindness with a greater deg...

While the act of walking down the street might be second nature to most of us, it can be a much more difficult experience for those who are blind or visually impaired. To combat the issue, Microsoft has developed a headset that uses bone-conducting audio, creating a 3D soundscape to safely guide users to their destinations.  Read More

World Beacon hopes to spread the SightCompass technology throughout schools, institutions ...

With their GPS capabilities and navigation apps, smartphones have undoubtedly made it easier for us to find our way around. The good news is we are starting to see these benefits extended to the visually impaired. SightCompass is a system that harnesses these strengths of the smartphone and combines them with proximity beacons to inform blind people of their surroundings.  Read More

The implant measures internal optic pressure, excessive amounts of which can lead to loss ...

Currently, people with glaucoma must have their internal optic pressure (the pressure within their eye) regularly checked by a specialist. If that IOP gets too high, then steps need to be taken to lower it, before vision damage can occur. The problem is, the pressure can change quickly, potentially rising to dangerous levels between those checks. A new implant, however, could make it possible for patients to check their own IOP as often as they like, using their smartphone.  Read More

A blind test subject prepares to try out the wayfindr system (Photo: RLSB)

Even more so than their sighted counterparts, blind people rely heavily on public transport. In a survey of blind youth conducted by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), however, about half of the participants stated that they were uncomfortable using the London Underground. With that in mind, the RLSB's Youth Forum partnered with the ustwo design firm to create a prototype system known as wayfindr. It uses a combination of Bluetooth beacons, an app, and bone conduction headphones to guide users through the subway system.  Read More

Dr Iain Murray and PhD student Azadeh Nazemi with the digital reading system they develope...

From a contact lens that delivers tactile sensations to the cornea, to a 3D-printed ring that reads text aloud in real-time, advances in technology have opened up some groundbreaking ways for the visually-impaired to consume printed content. Researchers from Australia's Curtin University have now unveiled a low-cost reading device that processes graphical information, enabling the blind to digest documents such as bills, PDFs, graphs and bank statements.  Read More

FingerReader uses a built-in camera to scan pieces of text, providing audio feedback to th...

Our age-old instinct to point at things we'd like to know more about has inspired a device that assists the visually impaired consume written text. FingerReader is a 3D-printed device that is worn as a ring on the index finger and uses a built-in camera and haptic actuators to read aloud as the user traces lines of printed words.  Read More

The wearable computing glove delivers vibrations to the wearer's knuckles that correspond ...

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a glove that helps users learn to read and write Braille, all while focusing on unrelated activities. The wearable computer uses miniature vibrating motors sewn into the knuckles, and was found to assist in developing motor skills in participants without them focusing on the movement of their hands.  Read More

Researchers in Mexico are building lenses that help the visually impaired navigate their e...

Researchers from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) in Mexico have developed a pair of glasses that use a combination of ultrasound, GPS, stereoscopic vision and artificial intelligence to help the visually impaired to navigate their environment. The device, perhaps the most sophisticated of its kind, is slated to reach mass production early next year and will likely cost up to US$1,500.  Read More

Grail to the Thief is an audio game designed to be played by the blind

Games that are accessible to the blind are few and far between, and – aside from a handful of stellar exceptions like Somethin’ Else’s Papa Sangre series on iOS – those that do exist tend to be amateurish at best. But a recently-funded Kickstarter project (which still has a few days to go) aims to rectify the problem. Grail to the Thief harks back to classic adventure games like Zork, Day of the Tentacle, and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, except that instead of text-only descriptions of twisty little passages and the like, it presents the entire game through audio.  Read More

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