IrisVision has developed a low-cost visual aid system for people with low vision. The system currently harnesses the power of a Samsung Galaxy smartphone mounted in a Samsung Gear VR headset.
The phone captures the scene using the smartphone’s camera, then remaps the scene to enhance its visibility for those with low vision. This scene enhancement is performed using multiple algorithms developed for various eye conditions.
The system allows for a wide field of view and users can vary the color contrast and brightness of the image. One function allows users to telescopically zoom in on a specific feature in a scene, while keeping the overall scene in context. Users can also dynamically adjust the zoomed area and magnification. The system includes various reading modes, both high contrast black letters on white or inverse, making text more readable.
IrisVision aimed to develop a system that is much more affordable and accessible than many of the specialized systems available for visually impaired people. Currently, the system retails for $2500 in the United States.
“Therapeutic virtual reality is transforming how we manage difficult to treat medical conditions, including severely impaired vision due to macular degeneration. Working with IrisVision, Samsung is deploying its GearVR headset, paired with IrisVision’s clinically validated virtual reality platform to enable the visually disabled to once again see faces and read small print. It does this by digitally enhancing and magnifying the images in real-time in the wearer’s field of view,” said Dr. David Rhew, Chief Medical Officer & VP and GM of Enterprise (B2B) Healthcare at Samsung Electronics America.
Ammad Khan, CEO of IrisVision said: “Today’s standard low vision aid is a closed circuit television device with a mouse-like scanner that magnifies text for reading. These are stationary devices that can only be used in a fixed location, such as at a desk. As you might expect we’ve found that low vision individuals yearn to see clearly in all aspects of life — not just reading, and not just in one spot. That’s why what we’re doing at IrisVision is so important, we’re helping people with low vision regain the ability to see everywhere life takes them.”
“There are other wearable or portable digital devices in the market, but they are much more expensive, less flexible, and have inferior image display capabilities. IrisVision is the only wearable low vision aid that combines the latest in mobile VR technology with rigorous medical research, at a price many individuals with low vision can afford.”
IrisVision has developed specific algorithms to accommodate different visual disorders. One suite of functions addresses and compensates for Macular Degeneration, a broad range of visual diseases that impair central vision. Another set of algorithms addresses Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease that diminishes peripheral vision and night vision.
The company is also working on algorithms that will compensate for glaucoma and central visual disorders such as hemianopsia, the loss of one half of the visual field.