2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Blind

A blind volunteer trying out Virginia Tech's BDC system in a dune buggy

Next January, before the Rolex 24 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, a Ford Escape will drive around part of the course. The catch: its driver will be blind. The event will be a demonstration of technology developed by the US National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech). Three years ago, Virginia Tech accepted the NFB’s Blind Driver Challenge (BDC), in which engineering schools were invited to design non-visual interfaces that would allow blind people to drive. From the sounds of things, the Rolex 24 demo could be just the tip of the iceberg.  Read More

Mice suffering retinitis pigmentosa have had their sight restored using gene therapy (Imag...

The classic nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice might need to be rewritten thanks to researchers from the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI) and the Institut de la Vision in Paris. Using gene therapy, the scientists have have restored sight in mice by repairing the function of cone photoreceptors made defective by a genetic eye condition.  Read More

First retina created from stem cells could help millions

In another world first in the fight against degenerative eye disorders, scientists from the Universtiy of California, Irvine, have created an eight-layer early-stage retina from human embryonic stem cells. Not only is this the world's first three-dimensional complex tissue structure to be made from stem cells, but it also marks the first step toward the development of transplant-ready retinas to treat eye disorders affecting millions.  Read More

Synthetic cornea offers hope to thousands

Donor corneas are extremely rare, but for 40,000 people in Europe corneal transplantation from donors offer the only hope of addressing blindness in one or both eyes. That was, until Dr. Joachim Storsberg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm created the first artificial cornea.  Read More

Bionic vision - ironically, we only have low-resolution images.

Researchers at Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) have produced a prototype version of a bionic eye implant that could be ready to start restoring rudimentary vision to blind people as soon as 2013. The system consists of a pair of glasses with a camera built in, a processor that fits in your pocket, and an ocular implant that sits against the retina at the back of the eye and electronically stimulates the retinal neurons that send visual information to the brain. The resulting visual picture is blocky and low-res at this point, but the technology is bound to improve, and even in its current form it's going to be a major life-changer for those with no vision at all. And the future potential - even for sighted people - is fascinating.  Read More

The hydraulic and latching mechanism concept could allow the development of a full-page, r...

When most of us are surfing the Web we generally do it in much the same way we read a newspaper. We scan the entire page looking for information that interests us before focusing our attention on that area. But imagine if your computer display only allowed you to see one line at a time. Finding that relevant nugget of information suddenly changes from a simple exercise to a time consuming chore. That’s the problem facing blind computer users today who are forced to rely on expensive electronic Braille displays that only show one line of text at a time. Researchers have now developed a concept that could enable a full-page, refreshable Braille display that would allow the blind to take full advantage of the Web and other computer applications.  Read More

The BrailleNote Apex from HumanWare takes advantage of communications technologies and mak...

When you’re busy working or studying, it’s important to maximize the available technology for productivity, accuracy and even comfort. But for blind people, not all technology is easily adaptable. The new BrailleNote Apex from HumanWare has been designed to enhance the reading and writing experience of blind people with improvements over previous models in connectivity, design and ergonomics.  Read More

Touch&Turn cooking system remains cool to the touch and has a user-friendly control panel

Whilst cooking is not exactly a risk-taking activity, the kitchen is not without its hazards - think open flames, red-hot pan handles and spluttering stews. So imagine how difficult preparing and cooking a meal might be for the blind and visually-impaired. A new cooking concept could provide a solution - the Touch&Turn is a cool-to-the-touch cooking pot that sits on a simple, user-friendly control panel and is designed to make cooking an easier and safer experience.  Read More

 The Cyclops mobile robotic platform is designed to be used as a surrogate for blind perso...

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a remote-controlled robot to help test the effectiveness of visual prostheses, such as an artificial retina, which are implanted into visually-impaired patients. Cyclops the robot - or, rather, the mobile robotic platform, or rover - lets scientists “see” the results that human patients could expect without having to test the device on them first. It is hoped that this approach may spare them some unnecessary procedures and one day lead to giving blind people the freedom of independence.  Read More

The BrainPort device helps the blind to 'see' through their tongues

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one million Americans over the age of 40 are legally blind - defined by U.S. law as vision that is 20/200 or worse, or have a field of view that is less than 20 degrees in diameter. It is estimated that adult vision loss costs the country about $51.4 billion per year. A new device aims to help restore the experience of vision for the blind and visually impaired by using nerves on the tongue's surface to send light signals to the brain.  Read More

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