New augmented reality (AR) software developed by GiveVision will enable blind people to recognise objects instantly. The device, which is mounted on glasses, uses a camera to film what is around the wearer and tell them what's there through an earpiece, enabling blind and partially-sighted people to understand what is around them.
"Our product is a software that transforms any off-the-shelf smartglasses into a guide or 'eyes' for blind people to get audio description of what's going on around them," GiveVision founder Kerpanko told IBTimes UK.
Stan Kerpanko, founder and chief executive of the London-based startup, wowed audiences with a live demo of the capability of the smart glass software at Web Summit in Dublin on Thursday, 5 November.
According to the RNIB one-in-five 5 people in the UK over the age of 75 suffer from sight loss. Kerpanko hopes that this technology will help blind and partially sighted people to live fulfilling lives and complete everyday tasks that fully-able people take for granted.
"Thinking about the tools blind have these days, are they enough to give them independence and mobility?" he asked.
The high-tech glasses, which have been tested by 180 blind and partially-sighted people, have been programmed to recognise everyday objects to help with navigation – from the entrance and types of shops to bus stops and road signs, the number of an approaching bus, and any empty seats on it.
It can also read text out loud and stores the information should the user want to revisit documents read emails, documents, books and magazines "almost like a buddy with its own set of eyes".
Facial-recognition software instantly tags people's faces and enables the glasses to tell the wearer the name of an approaching person, and additional details about them, including previous encounters.
"Our glasses are able to measure physiological changes, including body temperature, and minor muscle movements, and changes within your face to recognize and read emotion," Kerpanko says.
In Kerpanko's opinion, glasses are a more efficient way to tackle information than smartphones. "Smartglass technology can amplify cognitive ability and the ability to memorise and process information."
Kerpanko hopes that smartglasses will help blind people with better access to information around them in order to make everyday living easier. He also wants to improve accessibility to enable partially sighted and blind people to be more as effective at colleagues to do their work as effectively efficiently and productive as their "fully-abled" counterparts.
The GiveVision smartglasses are expected to cost between £50-£75 a month and now being tested by 1,000 users in the UK.
There are almost two million people in the UK living with sight loss, including 25,000 blind and partially sighted children in the UK under the age of 16, according to the RNIB.