a Bucharest-based Innovator, Silviu-Tudor Serban and his team have designed Helios, which uses Intel® RealSense™ 3D cameras to give those with severe visual impairments a clearer view of the world. And for those with total blindness, Helios features like reading assistance, facial recognition, and a haptic interface provide a much enhanced sense of their surroundings.
It works similar to a VR set, but instead of displaying computer-generated content, the user receives real-time visual data that is captured by the Intel® RealSense™ 3D camera. The software processes the data in order to provide the most relevant information for people with low vision. For example, if there are some obstacles nearby, the software can highlight them, and tell the user he or she is going to bump into something. It can also recognize people’s faces and assist with reading too.
The Intel® RealSense™ camera is so small, it can fit on a phone or tablet with the computing power and the sensors, and power-efficient.
The current prototype features an Intel® RealSense™ SR300 3D camera, which is mounted on a headset, and an Intel 2-in-1 hybrid laptop, which the user carries in a backpack.
Helios Light is the current working prototype, which aims to enhance sight for people suffering from low vision; and Helios Touch is a concept for improving spatial awareness for the blind. The secret ingredient for both implementations is Intel® RealSense™ technology, which is used to capture visual data.
The idea behind Helios Touch is to help people with complete blindness by using software that can describe their nearby environment and then communicate with them via haptic impulses. It uses vibration patterns to convey a level of information about what’s around the user, somewhat like painting a picture in broad strokes. If, for instance, an obstacle is encountered, the user can feel it is there before they run into it.
Those with total blindness can also take advantage of other features the software has right now, like reading assistance. That allows them to do things like go to a restaurant on their own and know what’s on the menu. It also has a special feature called Argos, which is named after the all-seeing guardian giant from Greek mythology. Argos is for remote caregiving. Basically, the user can connect to a friend or relative who they trust, and can ask for help and guidance whenever they need. That friend or relative will have access to a direct visual stream of what the user sees, which they get on their phone.
The Intel® RealSense™ technology also allows for almost instant learning of a person’s facial features. So a known person, such as a friend or relative, can thus be easily recognized when they are in the line of sight of the user and can better understand facial cues, such as happiness or surprise, when talking to others.