Smart Specs were developed by scientists in the UK to capture real-time images and enhance the contrast for legally blind individuals. There are many levels of blindness and about 90% of people labeled as ‘blind’ have some degree of sight.
Smart Specs look like binoculars or ViewFinders with a strap that keeps them secured to your head. The idea for Smart Specs originated from 3D cameras originally developed for the Xbox to capture real-time images. The images are contrast-enhanced and displayed on a screen in front of the user’s eyes. Dark things become black, while bright things become white. Far away objects are simply erased to reduce visual clutter. Objects that would normally blend into each other like a sofa, carpet, and dog of the same color, would be more clearly identifiable as 3 distinct objects.
Hannah Thompson, a legally blind British academic, tested Smart Specs and wrote about them on her blog. She wrote about how Smart Specs allowed her to shop for food in a busy market, something many of us don’t even think about.
“The first thing that struck me as I looked at the cheeses on display was that I could, for the first time ever, distinguish their different shapes and sizes,” she writes.
Smart Specs are likely to be pricey but for people like Hanna, they could be life changing.