Eyes to look at the sky


By Santana Fell
  • Published 20.08.18

GADGET: eSight 3 smart glasses
TECH SPECS: High-speed HD camera and two OLED displays; algorithmically processed video to enhance contrast and quality. Includes WiFi, Bluetooth, a speaker, a microphone and a wired remote control
PRICE: $10,000 (about Rs 7lakh)
BEST FOR: The visually impaired with Stargardt disease, optic atrophy, macular degeneration and glaucoma 

Commuting, jotting down notes, grabbing a quick snack - we do these daily chores without a second thought. For a person with impaired vision, however, these are challenging chores. Now, a new type of eyewear may make life easier for those who have weak vision.

The eSight 3 eyewear is a pair of smartglasses that could help people have up to 20/25 vision. It works for a variety of low-vision and extreme low-vision conditions. It is most effective for those with vision between 20/60 (which means you must be at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 60 feet) and 20/400 (severe vision impairment).

It is a visor-like device worn on the head, with a pair of corrective glasses built in, if they're needed. A high-speed camera views the world around the wearer, projecting the image on to a pair of OLED screens, where special software enhances and cleans up the image. There's no lag, the images don't have a digital appearance and, because the visor can be lowered and lifted, peripheral vision isn't ruined.

The eSight looks like a virtual reality eyewear and is personalised - the algorithms are programmed according to the individual's eye condition and preferred activities. It is also designed to automatically focus, allowing users to transition between near vision to long distance at ease. It comes with 24X zoom, which is controlled with a linked handset.

The latest version, the eSight 3, is lighter and cheaper. It's a fully portable device, with roughly six hours of battery life, that is controlled using an attached remote. It includes Bluetooth, a speaker and a microphone. It has WiFi and HDMI capabilities to stream digital content, and can send pictures and videos. The person who wears the glasses is able to control colour, contrast and magnification. Advanced, medically-validated algorithms optimise and enhance the footage so that you can truly see it, and in real time.

eSight is worn like a normal pair of glasses. You don't need to take off the device when you're not using it for a bit; just raise the visor to lock it at forehead level. The whole thing is easy to put on, adjust and take off, thanks to a clever system of magnets.

VERDICT: The only problem with this smartglass is it costs a whopping $10,000 (around Rs 7lakh). eSight is trying to make the glasses available in instalments and also finding ways for people to donate the device to causes. Although the smartglasses won't help people with total blindness, they can restore functional sight and transform lives of those with low vision.


Other smartglasses

Aira: These smartglasses use a camera and connectivity to assist people with visual impairment. Using augmented reality, Aira connects people who are blind or have low vision to a trained sighted agent whose words help the wearer "see" the environment, enhancing daily experience. The smartglasses can help colour match clothes, read the cafeteria menu and even organise an Uber ride. Customers pay a monthly subscription that includes cost of data, equipment and monthly minutes.

Price: Starts from $89 per month (about Rs 6,000)

NuEyes Pro: This device films the outside world with a camera on the bridge of the glasses and projects the image on electronic screens located in front of the user's eyes. Numerous changes can be made based on visual needs, such as making the image bigger or changing the contrast or colours, using simple voice commands. The smartglasses run on Android and feature up to 12x magnification.

Price: These come at a price of $5,995 (around Rs 4.1lakh)