Wearable Low Vision Technology
What To Know About Wearable Low Vision Technology
When people first reach out to us looking for some sort of assistive technology to help them get back to seeing more clearly they imagine what they want is a “better pair of glasses”. They are looking for something they can wear like glasses that will sit in front of their eyes and bring clarity no matter where they look. While there are optical glasses that can help some people in the early stages of vision loss, optical solutions have some inherent limitations.
Digital or electronic wearable technology overcomes these limitations, providing the user with variable magnification, auto-focus, and a large field of view. There are even wearable devices that do not rely on a user’s vision but instead view the user’s surroundings and give them audio feedback for reading text, recognizing faces, reading currency and so much more.
What are the Limitations of Optical Magnification?
Wearable optical magnifiers have a fixed focal range. Depending on the degree of magnification, the user will need to bring the subject matter within a very narrow range of distance in order to bring the object into focus. Wearable optical magnifiers also have a narrow field of view. The more powerful the magnification the smaller the field of view becomes, allowing only a small section of the subject matter to be viewed at one time. Finally, optical magnifiers have a fixed degree of magnification. There is no way to “zoom in” more. If you need a higher degree of magnification, you would need to purchase another more powerful optical magnifier.
Wearable Digital Magnifiers Overcome the Limitations
Wearable digital magnifiers on the other hand have a large field of view with screens that sit in front of your eyes making the room, your reading material, TV or computer to appear much closer or larger than it is. With variable size control, you can zoom in or out to the perfect degree of magnification for your need. The camera will auto focus allowing you to view things across a range of distances from close up to across the room. Wearable digital magnifiers also have additional benefits such as enhanced contrast modes to make text stand out and appear brighter for more comfortable viewing.
Wearable Text-to-Speech Devices
Some people get to the point where they would rather just have text read to them rather than working to read magnified text. There is another subcategory of wearable devices that will do exactly that and so much more.
These devices have a camera that sees the details in front of you – text, people, colors, currency, furniture. With the tap of a button or a vocal command, a user can hear the text in front of them read aloud, recognize different denominations of currency, call out the name of a friend or family member utilizing face recognition technology, and even call a friend so they can provide visual and verbal assistance by seeing through the very glasses you’re wearing.
Examples of Wearable Low Vision Technology
Vision Buddy is the world’s first ultra simple television watching system for the visually impaired. It allows users to zoom in to enjoy a movie theater experience in the comfort of your living room watching your own TV. Vision Buddy also offers the ability to connect to your computer as well as a live viewing mode that magnifies your reading material or your surroundings in the room around you.
OrCam MyEye is a wearable text-to-speech device about the size of a tube of lipstick that affixes to the side of a pair of glasses. With a simple tap of the finger or pointing gesture the device takes a picture of text and immediately begins reading it to you. It also has many other features for experiencing your surroundings such as facial recognition, currency recognition, reading barcodes and more.
Envision Glasses are a wearable assistive device that can convert printed or digital text into audible speech to read to you. It is a hands-free way to get all sorts of information about the environment around you including facial recognition, scene description, and the ability to video conference in a loved one to chat or help in the moment. Powered by cloud processing, Envision harnesses the cutting edge of technology for low vision and blind users.
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