Do you wear glasses? Most of the makers I know have them, and we often have conversations about specific vision issues — especially when it comes to light conditions. It’s this very issue that drew me to this new prototype of glasses on engadget, which enhance vision using contrast. The project, by Dr. Stephen Hicks of the Nullfield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford, has researchers working on clearer sight, rather than augmented sight.
Hicks’ early prototypes show a lot of promise. Test users with partial vision are treated to a high contrast view of nearby objects. “The idea of the smart glasses is to give people with poor vision an aid that boosts their awareness of what’s around them,” Hicks says. It’s not a cure for sight loss, but test users say the system helps to add context to their surroundings, and makes the most of their existing vision.
Check out the video for some first-hand accounts of using the “Oxford Glass”.
There is a downside to these glasses — they make people look like Oculus Rift junkies — but that’s to be expected, since tech is trying to catch up with the demands of wearables.
Unfortunately, the University’s current rigs are somewhat bulky — cramming a pocket-sized computer, Epson Moverio-sourced optics and a head-mounted motion camera into a single wearable — but Hicks says the unit will eventually “look like a regular pair of glasses.”
I’m hoping they find a compact solution, but in the meantime, I can certainly give kudos to the “less is more” design attitude. Don’t get me wrong, Google Glass is cool, but how much information do we want? People that lose an ability like sight or hearing often complain about being overstimulated by the sense that compensates. What about too many lights or sounds? Our gadgets are swiftly becoming a source of distraction, so I wonder whether this new pair of spectacles meant for the vision challenged will someday be used to calm those with full vision from an overstimulated world.
Speaking of overstimulated, how are you feeling? Maybe you should build a Brain Machine to help you meditate. Ironically it works with light flashes and sounds, but it may be just what you need to chill.
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