For people who grew up watching sci-fi shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of the dreams of vision and imaging technology is to bring sight to those who are blind or partially sighted. Smart glasses company Vuzix have taken a step towards that goal with the use of its M300 smart glasses.
Junior High School student Alyssa Baxter lives in the Portage area of Pennsylvania. She was born with a condition called optic nerve hypoplasia, which causes many of the optic nerves to be underdeveloped, creating a kind of extreme near-sightedness. In order to read or write, Baxter must be a mere nose-length away from the paper. “You’d be surprised at how bad some books smell,” Alyssa said half-jokingly.
In order to help her in the classroom, the school distract has installed desktop-sized camera rigs so Baxter can see what is happening at the front of the classroom, but this equipment is expensive, unwieldy and impractical to install in every location Baxter needs to use.
Which is where the Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses come in. By using a visual aid software called Cyber Eyez, Baxter can access a range of features useful for visually impaired people, such as read-aloud text, object and colour recognition, barcode scanning for product recognition, and for social situations a mode that can let the wear know someone’s expression.
Portage’s Director of Special Education, Pete Noel, watched as Baxter received the device and instructions on its use. “A lot of us need glasses. Without them, how would we get by?” said Noel. “Imagine what a challenge it is for people like Alyssa who have severe vision problems? I’m really excited to see if these glasses help, if they can eliminate some barriers for her and other students.”
Vuzix Chief Operating Officer and long-term Pennsylvania resident Paul Boris was on hand for the event on Tuesday and added, “The combination of ergonomic and functional smart glasses like the Vuzix M300 combined with the right software application provides a solution that is commercially available today that can deliver sight to visually impaired individuals like Alyssa Baxter, and the entire team is excited that we can help in some way.”
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