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OxSight Helps The Visually Impaired 'See' Using Augmented Reality

By Edge Ison , Feb 17, 2017 02:32 AM EST
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Visually-impaired people will get a chance to see with the help of OxSight's augmented reality glasses called Smart Specs. (Photo : TechCrunch/YouTube)

A startup company called OxSight is visualizing a world where everyone can see, even the visually impaired. It plans to accomplish such feat with a pair of augmented reality glasses.

OxSight has unveiled its Smart Specs last year and is working on finally bringing it to the public. The smart glasses utilizes an augmented reality display system that lets people with visual issues "see." This is made possible by the fact that most of these visually-impaired people still have some level of sight left in them. The device takes what it can and aids the user to see more by amplifying it with the help of the augmented reality smart glasses.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 285 million people in the world suffer from some level of blindness. Of that figure, 39 million are completely blind while the rest have low vision. Many of these people have never been able to see for the most of their lives if not their whole life. The startup from Oxford is out to change that with the Smart Specs.

According to Tech Crunch, the device uses camera systems, computer vision techniques and see-through displays commonly used in AR to allow the visually-impaired wearer to see cartoonish images of what stands before them. The user can manually adjust what he or she sees. They can zoom in or out, intensify the colors, or keep fiddling with the controls until they find what's suitable for them.

A group made up of engineers, human vision researchers and neuroscientists led by founder Dr. Stephen Hicks spent five years studying and innovating to finally come up with the Smart Specs. The group also got support from the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB).

The Smart Specs was included among the finalists of last year's AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards for the Accessibility Category. The award eventually went to Wayfindr which is an audio-based app that also helps the visually-impaired.

Augmented reality is proving to be an important aspect of healing. Aside from its positive implications on blindness, AR has also been used to help amputees deal with phantom limb pain. Hicks is also looking at the possibility of using the technology in treating autism, dementia and dyslexia.

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