Innovations That Matter

Smart glasses help the partially sighted to see

Sport & Fitness

RNIB Smart Glasses highlight the outlines of nearby objects to help the partially sighted see a simplified version of their surroundings.

The development of smart glasses has great potential to help those with disabilities understand the world around them better. In our Top 10 Health innovations list, we saw the use of enhanced glasses as a means of helping autistic children understand the emotions of their companions. Now, the Royal National Institute for Blind People — RNIB — have developed smart glasses for the partially sighted, which will help them regain their independence.


The RNIB Smart glasses are being developed by Dr Stephen Hicks of Oxford University, with funding from the Google Impact Challenge. They consist of transparent spectacles with two 3D cameras attached at the front, which match the distance between the wearer’s eyes to replicate stereoscopic vision. The camera detects the structure of nearby objects and highlights the outlines of the things that are nearest to the viewer, creating a cartoon version of the world around them so that they can view a simplified version of their surroundings.


The glasses can be adjusted to suit different eye conditions and even incorporate night vision, so that they can be used day and night. How else could smart glasses be used to enhance the way people see the world?



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