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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three years ago, we heard about a prototype shoe
that could be used to guide the wearer via haptic feedback. Designed by Anirudh Sharma, who was then a researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bangalore, India, the Lechal shoe was intended for use mainly by the blind. This week, however, Sharma and business partner Krispian Lawrence announced that the production version of the Lechal will soon be available for preorder, and it's aimed at helping all
people navigate the city streets.
The Faculty of Engineering at Israel's Bar Ilan University has developed a prototype of a contact lens which could enable the visually impaired to see the world in a whole new light. Developed by Professor Zeev Zalevsky, the contact lens processes digital images and translates them into tactile sensations which can then be felt on the user's cornea, allowing them to form a picture of their physical surroundings.
Scientists have used 3D printing technology to transform images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope into tactile "pictures" for the blind. Astronomers Carol Christian and Antonella Nota of the Space Telescope Science Institute are experimenting with 3D models as a means of aiding education for people who cannot study visual images.