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Adapted Specs To Help Those Suffering From Debilitating Disabilities And Illness

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The prospect of using technologically adapted eyewear to interact more intuitively and seamlessly within our daily environment is getting closer by the day. Researchers have discovered a device which may help those suffering from debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy or Multiple Sclerosis, to lead an improved quality of life.

Who Will it Benefit?
Conceivably, any illness which impairs mobility could see the adverse effects of carrying out even the simplest of daily tasks become alleviated by the device. Developed by researchers from the Imperial College London, the GT3D device is attached to the outer framework of an affordable set of glasses, including protruding video cameras placed on the end of a wiring system which displays a similar quality of video content of surroundings as seen in video game based camera systems. This ensures that the device is not overly expensive to produce or purchase, with each of the two cameras costing just under £20, while the £3 eyewear cost attached brings a total of less than £40.

The device contains technology akin to that of existing eye tracking technologies and ‘smart’ software, creating a product which it’s hoped will allow sufferers of nerve or muscle degenerative diseases or amputees to operate computers without the need for assistance or assistance from another person, increasing quality of life and increasing independence as a result. It is believed that the practical use of such technology could also be an exciting breakthrough for those using wheelchairs, potentially allowing the user to look where they want to go and be taken to the intended direction with no further manual input.

How Does it Work?
The device was recently showcased to a group of volunteers who played the classic arcade video game ‘Pong’, to demonstrate the functionality of the system on a basic level. The cameras work by taking regular images of the eye, fast enough to work out exactly where the pupil is pointing at any given time, with specific calibrations set up by the researchers using high tech software, determining not just where a person is looking, but also noticing precise depth perception, giving a more accurate reading.
Those playing the game were able to control movements of the bat when attempting to hit the ball to the opposing bat on screen, which has been attempted in the past using brain wave function with varying degrees of success. The department of Bioengineering responsible for the development of the device was headed up by lecturer Dr Aldo Faisal, explained that the results were a success in that six of the subjects tested measured only 20 percent away from equivalent ability to able bodied users after using the device for only ten minutes, whereby extensive use would likely see that percentage get ever closer.

Future Usage
Wireless use of the low powered device will encourage users who wish to try out the forthcoming Windows 8 package with its specifically designed gesture user control features but lack the ability to use a keyboard or mouse, in which ‘clicking’ a mouse can be swapped for a simple blinking gesture, of which Dr Faisal aptly concluded: “This is frugal innovation; developing smarter software and piggy-backing existing hardware to create devices that can help people worldwide independent of their healthcare circumstances.”

Jamie enjoys blogging about technology and its applications for DirectSight.co.uk – on-line spectacles experts.

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