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Hi-tech glasses for the visually impaired tested by blind military veterans in West Lothian

May 5, 2015

A press release:

Visually impaired veterans at Scottish War Blinded’s Linburn Centre will today be amongst the first in Scotland to try experimental ‘smart specs’ prototypes which use advanced technology to enhance the vision of those registered blind or with very poor sight.

Scottish War Blinded has partnered with the University of Oxford Smart Specs research group and RNIB to test the hi-tech glasses, which scientists say could prove a major boost to the vision and independence of those with visual impairments.

The smart specs are the brainwave of developer Dr Stephen Hicks, from Oxford University, who hopes a finished model will be commercially available soon. He said; “We eventually want to have a product that will look like a regular pair of glasses and cost no more than a few hundred pounds – about the same as a smart phone.”

In 2013 the invention won the Google Impact Challenge, and veterans supported by Scottish War Blinded are now getting the chance to see if the new technology can make a difference to their sight.

The smart specs require no surgery and no special training to use and could transform the lives of people with partial sight. The smart glasses consist of a video camera mounted on the frame of the glasses; a computer processing unit that is small enough to fit in a pocket; and software that provides images of objects to the see-through displays in the eyepieces of the glasses.

The glasses’ tiny stereoscopic cameras project simplified images onto the lenses, which shine more brightly the closer the wearer gets to obstacles, and are designed to help those a small degree of residual vision by determining distances and identifying shapes up to three metres away.

Scottish War Blinded’s Rehabilitation Officer Sharon McAllister commented, “My hope is that by participating in the trial of the prototype glasses, military veterans with severe sight loss will be able to experience an aid which boosts their awareness of what’s around them, allowing greater independence and confidence in getting about- which will in turn result in an improved quality of life.”

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