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Blind

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

Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) software analyzes data from stereo camera vie...

We've looked at a number of efforts to extend the capabilities of the traditional white cane for the visually impaired, such as using ultrasonic echoes or lasers to give users a better lay of the land. But a group of engineering researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) are looking to do away with the cane altogether and replace it with a "guide vest" that works in conjunction with a helmet-mounted camera and special software to let wearers "see" the world through tactile feedback.  Read More

Richard Taylor is growing fractal nanoflowers from metal nanoparticles, that may someday b...

What do trees, rivers, clouds and neurons have in common? They're all examples of fractals, or irregularly-shaped objects in which any one component is the same shape as the whole – a tributary of a river, for instance, looks like a miniature river itself. Electronic chips are not fractals, yet some researchers are trying to restore sight to the blind by attaching such chips to the eye's neurons. Given that neurons are fractals, wouldn't it work better to hook them up to other fractal structures? University of Oregon researcher Richard Taylor thinks so, which is why he's developing metal "nanoflowers."  Read More

The NAVI project system helps the visually impaired 'see' obstacles

While we've looked at a couple of efforts to upgrade the humble white cane's capabilities, such as the ultrasonic Ultracane and the laser scanning cane, the decidedly low tech white cane is still one of the most commonly used tools to help the visually impaired get around without bumping into things. Now, through their project called NAVI (Navigation Aids for the Visually Impaired), students at Germany's Universität Konstanz have leveraged the 3D imaging capabilities of Microsoft's Kinect camera to detect objects that lie outside a cane's small radius and alert the wearer to the location of obstacles through audio and vibro-tactile feedback.  Read More

Blinput would allow the visually impaired to navigate its menu system using hand gestures

Smartphones have already proven their worth as navigation devices for sighted people but a new concept aims to go even further for the vision impaired. Dubbed blinput, the system would allow visually impaired people to not only find their way around, but also interact with the connected world using the smartphone’s camera to gather context relevant information that would then be relayed to the user through a pair of headphones.  Read More

A conventional white cane (Photo: Ryxhd123)

For the past several years, various research institutions and organizations have been experimenting with electronic “white canes” for the blind. One of these was the ultrasound-enabled UltraCane, which we profiled five years ago. Now, however, an associate professor of applied science at the University of Arkansas is working on something more advanced – a white cane that utilizes laser technology to give users the lay of the land.  Read More

The FDA has finally approved a miniature eye telescope that will aid sufferers of end-stag...

After five years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally given approval to an eye telescope that treats macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) has been developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, Inc. as part of Centrasight, a new patient care system which treats end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Read More

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