Augmented Reality glasses helps in enhancing mobility among people with low vision

In order to help patients suffering from poor vision, scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC have created glasses equipped with augmented reality. These especially help people suffering with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease. According to reports, the glasses help people in improving their mobility by 50%, in addition to boosting their grasp performance by 70%.

According to researchers, the current wearable technologies are not at par with virtual reality. Moreover these are difficult to use since patients require to undergo a special training.

“Using a different approach — employing assistive technology to enhance, not replace, natural senses — our team adapted AR glasses that project bright colors onto patients’ retinas, corresponding to nearby obstacles,” commented Mark Humayun, MD, PhD, director of the USC Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics.

For the study, patients with retinitis pigmentosa wore AR adapted glasses while navigating through an obstacle course. It was based on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-validated functional test. Furthermore, researchers recorded how often patients collided with obstacles during the course, along with the duration required for them to complete the course. The results concluded, that patients with AR adapted glasses averaged 50% less collisions.

During the test, patients were also asked to hold a wooden peg against a black background. The peg was located behind four other wooden pegs and the patients were not allowed to touch any other front items. Through AR glasses, a 70% increase in the grasp performance was recorded.

“Patients with retinitis pigmentosa have decreased peripheral vision and trouble seeing in low light, which makes it difficult to identify obstacles and grasp objects. They often require mobility aids to navigate, especially in dark environments,” commented Anastasios N. Angelopoulos, a study project lead in Humayun’s research laboratory at the Keck School.

“Through the use of AR, we aim to improve the quality of life for low vision patients by increasing their confidence in performing basic tasks, ultimately allowing them to live more independent lives,” Angelopoulos adds.

AR system overlays an object that falls within a 6-foot wide frame based on distinct, four bright colors. The AR helps people in providing color cues which in return helps to interpret complex environments. People are hence able to avoid obstacles which are placed in dimly lit environments.

Researchers hope they can make the technology more convenient for the future