Smart glasses

What are RNIB Smart glasses?

RNIB Smart glasses help wearers to identify shapes, determine distance, and are able to detect objects up to three metres away.

Our smart glasses have:

  • a transparent display - lenses appear clear to others and allow eyes to be seen.
  • two cameras at the front of the glasses which mimic the location of your eyes to determine distance (stereoscopic vision).
  • the ability to be adjusted to suit different eye conditions.
  • night vision - smart glasses work both during day and night!

Their development

RNIB Smart glasses are the brainchild of Dr Stephen Hicks of Oxford University, and have been in development with RNIB for over three years. Earlier this year we won the Google Impact Challenge, receiving a much needed funding boost and recognition for the project.

The project's main aim is to develop a commercially viable product that is affordable, practical and intuitive - retailing for less than £300.

Awards and recognition

The RNIB Smart glasses project has a huge potential to change the lives of many visually impaired people, allowing greater independence in everyday situations. It has been recently recognised for this social impact by the Nominet Trust 100.

Our trials

Over 200 people from around the UK took part in testing and around 75 people had the opportunity to take home a pair of Smart Glasses for a month or so. Some of the feedback we received was truly humbling, with people reporting that they could see faces and expressions much better than before. Lots of people reported greater confidence when walking around darkened or unfamiliar areas, a few people even went to the movies, the pub and even bowling!

We found the best results were from people who had some central vision, such as tunnel vision and diabetic retinopathy. We realise that there are many types of eye conditions and we want to help as many people as possible, so most of our work is now looking at the strengths and weaknesses of our current Glasses and exploring ways of making them even better.

A full report will be available here on the 1st of August.

Future of Smart Glasses

The team at the University of Oxford have also launched a company called OxSight (“Oxford Sight”) through which they hope to refine the design and usability of the devices and make them available to purchase. Visit their website for more information or contact the team directly by telephone at 01865 556425 or email to register your interest. Once registered, you will then receive updates on Smart Glasses.

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