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Blind

A new retinal prosthesis could allow the blind to see, by using pulses of near-infrared li...

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in North America, while retinitis pigmentosa causes approximately 1.5 million people worldwide to lose their sight every year. Individuals afflicted with retinal degenerative diseases such as these might someday be able to see again, however, thanks to a device being developed at California’s Stanford University. Scientists there are working on a retinal prosthesis, that uses what could almost be described as miniature solar panels to turn light signals into nerve impulses.  Read More

A clinical trial of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis involving 30 patients has produced enc...

After receiving European market approval for its Argus II Retinal Prosthesis in 2011, Second Sight has published interim results of an international clinical trial showing encouraging results in blind patients suffering degenerative eye conditions that lead to incurable blindness.  Read More

UCLA's Dr. Steven Schwartz (center) transplanting specialized cells derived from human emb...

UCLA researchers are reporting a milestone in the therapeutic use of stem cells after two legally blind patients who received transplants of specialized retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells reported a modest improvement in their vision. Monitoring of the patients’ progress over a four month period also found no safety concerns, signs of rejection or abnormal cell growth. The researchers are claiming that the success of the procedure could pave the way for a new therapy to treat eye diseases.  Read More

The NSK robot guide dog climbs stairs (Photo: gizmag.com)

Guide dogs for the visually impaired provide an important service and help provide a welcome sense of autonomy to physically-challenged individuals. Unfortunately, the highly-skilled canines require about US$30,000 in training over several months, and always seem to be in short supply. The growing demand for these specialized animal companions gave a group of engineers from Japan's NSK corporation and the University of Electro-Communications just the impetus they needed to design a mechanical solution, and the robotic guide dog was born.  Read More

Le Chal is a navigational device for the blind, that guides them to their destination via ...

Within just the past few years, scientists have developed an impressive number of experimental systems designed to help the blind navigate city streets. These have included devices that mount on the wrist, are incorporated into glasses, are worn as a vest, and that augment a traditional white cane. A young researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bangalore, India, however, has come up with something else - a navigational device for the blind that's built into a shoe.  Read More

The touchscreen Braille writer lets users position their fingers anywhere on the tablet di...

Undergraduate student, Adam Duran, made excellent use of his time at Stanford University, where he attended a two-month summer course organized by the Army High-Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC). Together with his mentors, Adrian Lew and Sohan Dharmaraja, he created a potentially game changing application that should make the lives of visually impaired people both easier and less expensive. The application turns a tablet into a Braille writer and thus saves the blind from having to purchase a device that may cost up to ten times more than a tablet.  Read More

The prototype Tacit wrist-mounted sonar device designed by Steve Hoefer

We’ve seen a number of devices - such as the UltraCane and EYE 21 system - that combine sonar and haptic or audio feedback to let the visually impaired “see” their surroundings through the senses of touch or hearing. Tacit is a similar device that also uses sonar to measure the distance to objects and provide users with a ‘view” of their surroundings through haptic feedback. But unlike previous devices we’ve looked at, Tacit is mounted on the wrist so it doesn’t impair a user’s hearing or interfere with the use of other assistance devices such as canes.  Read More

The experimental EYE 21 system assigns sounds to objects, allowing blind people to be awar...

Engineers from the Research Center for Graphic Technologies at Spain's Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) have created an experimental system, that allows the blind to be aware of their surroundings through the use of sound. Called EYE 21, it consists of a pair of sunglasses with two built-in micro video cameras, a computer, and a pair of headphones. It's similar to sonar systems that have been used to achieve the same goal.  Read More

Virtual Cane is a kind a handheld sonar capable of recognizing physical objects up to 10 m...

We've seen a number of prototype and concept devices aimed at upgrading or even replacing the low-tech white cane and this latest example from Hebrew University - the Virtual Cane - appears close to becoming a commercial product. Virtual Cane is a handheld device that uses a type of sonar to recognize physical objects up to 10 m (39 ft) from the user. It emits invisible focused beams towards objects it is pointed at and determines how far away they are. The information is then relayed to the user via a series of vibrations which vary in intensity depending on the distance.  Read More

The prosthesis that is implanted in and on the eye to give functional vision to the blind

The Argus II Retinal Implant from California-based company Second Sight has become the first retinal prosthesis for treatment of the blind approved for sale in Europe. The approval follows a successful clinical trial that ran for almost four years and saw more than 30 patients around the world using the device at home as they went about their daily lives. While the system isn’t able to restore normal vision, the majority of trial subjects gained the ability to perceive colors, recognize large letters and locate objects, while two were even able to read short sentences.  Read More

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