Low-vision users can now magnify their screen using a smartphone app, a new study has revealed.

Those with visual problems often find it difficult to read their screens. Zooming in the text or image does not help, as navigation becomes troublesome. This is what researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear of Harvard Medical School want to address by developing a smartphone app that amplifies the built-in zoom feature by magnifying the screen to Google Glass.

The technology allows the magnification of smartphone screens to Google Glass. With the screen magnified to the user's preference, navigation can be done using simple head movements.

"When people with low visual acuity zoom in on their smartphones, they see only a small portion of the screen, and it's difficult for them to navigate around - they don't know whether the current position is in the center of the screen or in the corner of the screen," said Gang Luo, senior author and associate scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear.

The head-motion app gives users to have a good sense of orientation. This ultimately addresses the loss of context and navigation issues seen in usual smartphone magnifications.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the technology, the team had two groups - one group using only the built-in zoom, while the other using head-motion Google Glass app. The time for task completion was compared between the two groups. Researchers found that those who used the head-motion based navigation have a 28 percent reduction in average trial time than those who used manual scrolling.

At present, the researchers are also studying whether the head-motion based navigation is better than voice-based navigation. The team is also looking at developing the technology to include more gestures on the Google Glass.

As of late, the interest on the use of smart glass is growing. A few weeks ago, Microsoft offered its HoloLens "mixed reality" technology, which gives users to see a magnified image of their surroundings.

Shrinivas Pundlik, PhD., one of the researchers, said that they are looking at the future of smart glasses functioning without any paired device, and the head-motion based navigation technology they developed is not limited to those who have visual problems - anyone who wants to see the bigger picture can use it.

The finding was published online in Transaction on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.

To see a demonstration of the head-motion based app, watch below.

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