Smart Specs Help Legally Blind See

Feature of Smart Specs

By Hillary Kleck

Scientists at the University of Oxford and a start-up company known as VA-ST have developed a pair of glasses called ‘Smart Specs’ for people with visual impairments. The glasses work to emphasize details of images in real time, allowing many people with low vision to see the necessary aspects of information in a scene in order for the brain to more fully comprehend what is in view.

Stephen Hicks, a neuroscientist on the Oxford team and co-founder of VA-ST, explains that the brain really only needs a few pieces of an image, then fills in the rest to complete the picture.

VA-ST plans to start selling the augmented reality-type glasses next year at a starting price of about $1,000. The company hopes to be able to make the glasses slimmer and adjust features for low-light situations, among other features to make the glasses more helpful to users.


A cafeteria scene


A cafeteria scene as seen through Smart Specs


To learn more about Smart Specs and to see an example of how the glasses could adjust images for some legally blind users, check out the Smithsonian Innovation article, These Glasses Could Help the Blind See.


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