An augmented reality device may improve functional vision in people with nearly complete vision loss by translating spatial information into color-coded, high-contrast visual patterns.
A group of researchers developed an application to run on the HoloLens (Microsoft), one of the head-mounted see-through augmented reality (AR) commercially available consumer systems. The system measures, stores and translates into 3D environmental maps the dimensions and shapes of the physical space around the wearer and, through a set of sensors, continuously tracks the user’s position and orientation in the environment. The new application discretizes distances into a set of bands of different colors that are overlaid on the environment in stereoscopic 3D when viewed through the display.
Subjects included in the study were involved in a series of tasks, including person localization, and pose, object and gesture recognition. A second set of tests included mobility tasks, exploring the room and identifying obstacles.
The AR concept holds promise for the visually impaired, although the currently available systems, such as the one used in the study, still have limitations, the authors noted. Due to several factors, including different forms of vision loss, the tests resulted in diverse outcomes. However, participants who were able to successfully use augmented vision gained higher visual confidence as compared with baseline.
“The rapid developments in mobile consumer devices' computing power together with universal platforms for application development provide increasing opportunities to broaden and improve visual assistive technology,” the authors concluded. – by Michela Cimberle
Disclosure: None of the authors have reported a conflict of interest.