Technology is transforming the delivery of care across Canada as more and more of our health care system becomes digitized. With the myriad of advancements that have been achieved in recent years, our health and vision have benefitted. Here we explore some of the developments that have and continue to improve our sight.
eSight high-tech smart glasses are designed to enhance the sight of those with low vision. This captivating piece of technology not only enables a visually impaired person to obtain steady employment and navigate the world confidently, but to also gain a stronger sense of independence.
Smart glasses enhance acuity for those who suffer from a variety of conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, ocular albinism, cone-rod dystrophy, Stargardt’s disease, and retinitis pigmentosa.
Programmed to detect developmental disorders in children or in the aftermath of brain trauma in adults, the L-R Eye-Hand Coordination App challenges users to trace colourful shapes with a stylus pen. Created by University of New South Wales optometrists, the $1.99 iPad app automatically records the time taken to complete each shape and the number of tracing errors, providing a less expensive yet more objective testing option for optometrists and other health professionals than those currently available.
The app replaces traditional methods of testing eye-hand coordination, such as placing pegs in holes or threading beads, which are repetitive and not engaging. For more details on this invention, read our blog.
New technology is showing real promise in correcting eye problems like amblyopia. Perceptual learning (practicing a set of visual tasks) with computer games is proving useful to increase visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in people with amblyopia. Lazy Eye Blocks is based on the video game Tetris, but the puzzle blocks are reduced to red or blue colours. The player must wear tinted glasses (similar to the old school red and blue 3D glasses), so each eye can only see half of the pieces. To succeed in the game, players are forced to use both eyes equally.
For more details on this rehabilitation strategy, read our blog.
A student software development team led by Computer Science and Software Engineering Professor Panos Linos at Butler University, is working on updating their GuideDawg app (to GuideDawg 2.0), to help its students who are blind navigate the campus. While some blind students have guide dogs, this application acts as an alternative which offers directions from building to building, at each and every step, using digital mapping and GPS location technology.
The team has improved on their previous version, providing updates on the app’s vocalizations, speed and no-touch capabilities. The team is also mapping out the latitude and longitude of every door and classroom on the campus and are incorporating user feedback – such as flagging problem areas on campus routes – in order to fine tune the experience. It’s new developments like GuideDawg, that give universities an example of how technological accessibility cultivates an inclusive environment for everyone.
Microsoft released a free app that is designed to help the visually impaired better navigate the world around them. The Seeing AI app uses artificial intelligence computer vision to process a scene or words on an image and narrates them for the user. It can even identify the facial cues of friends. Microsoft claims the app turns the visual world into an audible experience. In 2019, Microsoft expanded to include five more languages — French, Dutch, German, Japanese and Spanish.
The app uses neural networks (similar to those being used in self-driving vehicles) to identify the environment and automatically speak the observations aloud. To use the app, the user points a phone’s camera at a scene, sign, letter, or person, and it will dictate the computerized observations. For a person with minimal vision, this could mean the difference between grabbing the correct credit card or approaching the right person. For more details on this tool, read our blog.
Amazing new tech is coming out all the time, helping to combat the challenges of vision impairment for so many individuals. To keep up with advancements, be sure to bookmark the FYidoctors technology blog.