Being visually impaired can make life hard. It comes with many challenges, including difficulties in getting around and doing things independently. Nonetheless, with the advancements in technology, visual limitations are no longer as bad as they seemed some ten years ago. With the many inventions brought by technological innovations, the lives of people with visual disabilities have tremendously improved.
Here’s a look at how some modern medical innovations are helping those with low vision or blindness:
Advanced technology such as eSight vision aid has led to improvement in most electronic devices to cater to those with visual impairments. Common improvements include enlarged fonts, improved dictation, and advanced voice-command technologies. You can now do almost anything on your smartphone without touching it. This has made life easier for those with visual impairments.
Unlike in the past when there were limited reading devices, you can now use lightweight devices to read digital books like talking books, e-books, MP3 files, and many more formats. These devices are small enough to fit into your pocket, yet they’re capable of carrying thousands of books and radio stations. Digital talking books also come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi to give you access to more online books.
Video magnifiers for low vision aids are devices that can scan printed material and magnify it on a screen. These devices are portable and can be handheld or mounted onto a stand for your convenience. Some magnifiers even have text to speech functions, recognizing text and reading it aloud. This innovation can be handy when reading long passages.
Easy Street Crossing
A common challenge for most visually impaired people is street crossing. To help you overcome this dangerous phenomenon, you could look into using smartphone crossing apps. These apps are designed to provide the safest crossing path in and around the city. The apps also help keep you within the safety of crosswalks.
Most crossing smartphone apps use three technologies: a Global Positioning System (GPS), computer vision, and a geometric information system (GIS). The GPS determines the user’s location while the computer vision scans the area for crosswalks. The GIS has a database with detailed information regarding the safety of crosswalks such as the terrain and any possible hazards on the pathways. The three technologies work together to ensure that the users are kept aware of walk lights’ status and the presence of vehicles.
Tag And Scan Systems
Digital transformations have seen a rise in apps that make everyday tasks easier for the visually impaired. Some apps have a tag and scan system, allowing users to scan any tag and have the instructions readout. Some of the apps can be quite handy when getting around supermarkets as they can read price tags and product information.
With tag and scan systems, you can enter any information and tag it with instructions. For example, there can be tags around your house with information such as the color of clothes and matching outfits. When you move around the house, the device will give the information when you scan the tag. Some cities now have tags in public places to help the visually impaired with easy navigation.
Indoor navigation can be a challenge for blind people or those with visual impairment. Although some GPS devices can guide you to a general location, they may not be useful for getting you to a specific area indoors. Robotic canes, however, can give you information regarding your surroundings.
The robotic cane works through a 3D camera, computerized to be your eyes. Additionally, the stick uses a motorized roller tip to propel you towards the desired path. Furthermore, the stick can interpret voice commands. All you need is to speak into its built-in mic, and it guides you to your destination.
A high-tech Wi-Fi system enables the stick to access and download the floor plans of buildings. The cane’s central processing unit analyses the plans and gives the user real-time guidance and alerts on stairs and hallways.
Grasping Small Objects
If you or your visually impaired loved one has ever had problems finding door handles and other small things, your problem can now be a thing of the past. A robotic glove has been developed to help those with low vision find and grasp objects faster.
Like the robotic cane, the glove has a picture, text, and speech recognition system, which allows the user to give voice commands such as a bottle of water, door handle, or mug. The glove is also fitted with a camera which acts as its eyes. The glove uses an actuator on its surface to guide its user. This prompts the user to move their hand forward or backward.
An electric stimulus gives a sensation that excites the nerves on the user’s hand, simulating a sense of touch. For instance, when your hand is approaching a door handle, you’ll feel a sense of the handle’s shape in your hand, and you’ll adjust the position of the hand to grasp the handle. The camera ensures that you follow the right direction.
Other Visual Aid Apps
There are many apps now available to help those with seeing difficulties. The following are some ways people across the globe are being helped by different software:
- Reading Aloud
Some apps can read short pieces of handwritten text aloud. All you need is to hover your device on the text, and it reads it. The post office has used some of these apps to sort out envelopes quickly, but they’re now available to the public.
- Object Determination
Other apps allow you to connect with a sighted volunteer to easily determine things like your shirt’s color and where to get something in your home or at the mall. These apps use your phone camera and send pictures or videos of what you want to determine.
- Connecting With Professional Helpers
Some apps can connect you with professionals, should you need help. For example, if you dropped off at the wrong bus station, you could contact a professional agent to rescue you. Agents can also help you with navigating places like malls and airports. They use your phone camera as your eyes, and they tell you which way to go.
- Connecting With Family And Friends
Walkie-talkie apps allow you to connect with other people through your smartphone or computer. These technologies offer audio versions of texting, and they let users hear each other’s voices in real-time.
Being visually impaired isn’t a death sentence. You or your visually challenged loved ones can now access cutting-edge technologies to help lessen the burden that comes with limited or lack of sight. Because most devices and software are task-specific, you may have to get different ones for your needs. To help with ideas on which ones to pick, you could consult a professional.