Researchers from the University of Washington
have developed a wearable computer that helps people with low vision see
The device tracks objects as a person walks, and when it detects
that something is in the way, a retinal scanning display projects a bright
icon directly onto the user's retina. The icon indicates the general location
of the hazard.
The system can help low-vision people get around. It also paves
the way for other types of systems for low-vision people, according to
the researchers. Optical character readers could be used to read text
and present it on the display, or a GPS system could be used to help give
navigation directions, for instance.
The researchers' device uses a laptop computer that can be carried
in a backpack and a head-mounted system that includes an infrared camera
that tracks objects and the display that projects a laser through a vibrating
fiber to scan a 100-by-40-pixel image onto the user's retina. Different
icons can be used for different hazards.
A better, less expensive system will be practical in three to
five years, according to the researchers. The researchers presented the
work at the Society for Information Display (SIDS) International Symposium
2004 in Seattle, Washington, May 23 to 28.
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