Glasses that feature augmented reality technology may help patients who suffer from ailments that cause low vision to better navigate their environments.
Many Americans over the age of 40 experience a condition known as low vision, which can be caused by retinitis pigmentosa, albinism, glaucoma, diabetes, and other conditions. This significant visual impairment can’t easily be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery.
Recently, however, a new study of retinitis pigmentosa found that this inherited degenerative disease can be “treated” with augmented reality (AR) to improve patient mobility and grasp performance. Current wearable low vision technologies are limited and require patients to participate in extensive training. But new AR glasses go about it another way.
How Augmented Reality Treats Retinitis Pigmentosa
Researchers have recently begun to offer glasses that use assistive technology to enhance the natural senses.
Patients with retinitis pigmentosa have poor peripheral vision and trouble seeing in low light. This makes it difficult to grasp objects or identify obstacles while moving. Many with this condition rely on mobility aids to navigate, especially in dark environments. These specialized AR glasses project bright colors onto patients’ retinas. These bright colors correspond to nearby obstacles.
AR glasses can improve quality of life for low vision patients by increasing their confidence in performing basic tasks.
How These Augmented Reality Glasses Work
The augmented reality system overlays objects within a six-foot wireframe with four bright, distinct colors. The glasses offer visual color cues to help people with constricted peripheral vision to interpret complex environments and avoid obstacles in low-light environments.
To make this possible, researchers used a process called simultaneous location and mapping. The augmented reality glasses fully render the 3D structures of a room in real-time. The glasses translate information into a semitransparent colored visual overlay. The overlay highlights potential obstacles with bright colors that allow patients to improve their spatial understanding and depth perception.
Augmented Reality Benefits the Visually Impaired
Another augmented system helps those who have nearly complete vision loss by translating spatial information into color-coded, high-contrast visual patterns. The system measures, stores, and translates the dimensions and shapes of the physical space around the wearer. Through a set of sensors, it continuously tracks the user’s position and orientation.
Yet another augmented system uses auditory augmented reality to alert a person to important 3D objects. Natural language improves navigation and object localization. Yet another solution overlays 10 high-contrast bands of color on top of vision to improve edge detection.
Learn how embedded vision systems are being leveraged in the augmented reality industry by visiting our Embedded Vision in the Augmented Reality Industry educational section.