Oxford University has developed smart glasses that will bring back vision to people that have severe sight impairments.
The device will not be able to restore eyesight of those that are completely blind, but it will be able to assist with spatial awareness to allow the wearer to visualize movement and facial expressions.
The glasses have a video camera that is mounted on the frame, along with a small computer processing unit and software which projects images of nearby objects to the lenses of the glasses. The software uses information received through the video camera and an infrared beam, processing it and then displaying images onto the lenses as line drawings, with the brighter lines representing objects that are closer.
Up to two million people in the United Kingdom could benefit from the invention, which uses the fact that a majority of people that are legally blind are still able to perceive light.
Latest developments on the project have made the research team confident that the device can now be used in a home setting.
Dr. Stephen Hicks from the University of Oxford said that wearers of the device can walk around and navigate doorways, along with seeing things on the floor that can cause the user to fall. By doing so, they can gain confidence in being in dependent.
Hicks adds that the response to the device by the testers has been excellent,
"People have loved them. They remark how much they can see now. They can see details in faces, they can see their own hands. People have commented how they've seen their guide dog for the first time. It's a real enabler."
The size and form of the device is currently still bulky, but the development team hopes to trim down the size of the smart glasses to a size no bigger than a bulky pair of sunglasses. The team is also looking to add an earpiece to the device, so that the device's software can read out figures to the wearer of numbers and letters that it scans.
The development team is looking to also trim down the cost of the smart glasses to a price similar to a mobile phone, with an initial batch of 100 units to begin development later this year.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People has kept an eye on the project, which the organization believes could make a huge difference to the lives of visually impaired people.