Technology is transforming the delivery of care across Canada as more and more of our health care system becomes digitized. With the myriad of advancements that have been achieved in recent years, our health and vision have benefitted. Here are some of the most impactful developments that have and continue to improve our sight.
Smart Glasses For the Blind
eSight high-tech smart glasses are designed to enhance the sight of those with low vision. The captivating piece of technology not only enables a visually impaired person to obtain steady employment and navigate the world confidently, but to also gain a stronger sense of independence.
Smart glasses enhance acuity for those who suffer from a variety of conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, ocular albinism, cone-rod dystrophy, Stargardt’s disease, and retinitis pigmentosa. For more details on this invention, read our blog.
Hand-Eye Coordination Perfection
Programmed to detect developmental disorders in children or in the aftermath of brain trauma in adults, the L-R Eye-Hand Coordination App challenges users to trace colourful shapes with a stylus pen. Created by University of New South Wales optometrists, the $1.99 iPad app automatically records the time taken to complete each shape and the number of tracing errors, providing a less expensive yet more objective testing option for optometrists and other health professionals than those currently available.
The app replaces traditional methods of testing eye-hand coordination, such as placing pegs in holes or threading beads, which are repetitive and not engaging. For more details on this invention, read our blog.
Lazy Eye Correction Games
New technology is showing real promise in correcting eye problems like amblyopia. Perceptual learning (practicing a set of visual tasks) with computer games is proving useful to increase visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in people with amblyopia. Lazy Eye Blocks is based on the video game Tetris, but the puzzle blocks are reduced to red or blue colours. The player must wear tinted glasses (similar to the old school red and blue 3D glasses), so each eye can only see half of the pieces. To succeed in the game, players are forced to use both eyes equally.
For more details on this rehabilitation strategy, read our blog.
Medical Sensor Contact Lenses
Google’s smart contact lenses project may help people with diabetes manage their disease. The prototype lenses, from Google’s research division and a partnership with major pharmaceutical company Novartis, contains a tiny wireless chip, a hair-thin antenna, and a miniature sensor; these components work together to measure the blood glucose level of a person’s tears. The technology is embedded between two layers of contact lens material and sends blood sugar information to your smartphone.
In addition to blood sugar testing, there are other health-focused contact lens projects on the horizon. Researchers at Columbia University have been testing the ability to predict the progression of disease in glaucoma patients. For more details on these lenses, read our blog.
Seeing AI App
Microsoft released a free app that is designed to help the visually impaired better navigate the world around them. The Seeing AI app uses artificial intelligence computer vision to process a scene or words on an image and narrates them for the user. It can even identify the facial cues of friends. Microsoft claims the app turns the visual world into an audible experience.
The app uses neural networks (similar to those being used in self-driving vehicles) to identify the environment and automatically speak the observations aloud. To use the app, the user points a phone’s camera at a scene, sign, letter, or person, and it will dictate the computerized observations. For a person with minimal vision, this could mean the difference between grabbing the correct credit card or approaching the right person. For more details on this tool, read our blog.
Amazing new tech is coming out all the time, making disability due to vision impairment a thing of the past. To keep up with advancements, be sure to bookmark the Visique technology blog.