Low vision,  is a visual impairment that leads to the loss of sight. According to the WHO, several types of pathologies can be identified: absolute blindness where the individual is completely devoid of any sense of sight and more or less severe low vision with a visual acuity of between 1/10 and 4/10. In France, a person is considered to be visually impaired when his or her acuity is less than or equal to 4/10, which represents more than 1.8 million visually impaired people and approximately 80,000 blind people. Lenses, operations and medical treatments can greatly improve vision, but with the digital age and new technologies the limits have been pushed back. Individuals with absolute blindness can now benefit from enormous support.

Solutions 3.0

Beyond their constant dependency, what most handicaps visually impaired or blind individuals is their lack of a sense of direction. Indeed, they find it very difficult to find their way around because our sight is the only sense that allows us to perceive what is around us… The simple fact of going to buy a baguette 5 minutes away from home is already a test… Fortunately, there are many solutions today that allow us to minimize this handicap and make life easier for these people on a daily basis.

The “finger reader” ring developed by researchers in Auckland, New Zealand, is a technological gem equipped with a high-definition micro-camera coupled with real-time voice analysis and synthesis software. The text is therefore translated aloud by the ring when the wearer puts his finger on the line and scrolls to the end, if the wearer gets on the wrong line and deflects an audible signal. 

image from website objetconnecte.fr

 At the moment the only means of reading for the visually impaired and blind is Braille, with this new technology a giant step forward has just been taken.

We recognize blind people in the street with the help of their white canes, but nowadays the 3.0 cane is making its entrance. WeWalk is a connected cane that works with an ultrasonic camera, these ultrasounds allow us to detect obstacles even in the head area. This cane equipped with a touchpad can also connect to a smartphone and use various applications such as Alexa, or Google maps through Bluetooth. A major evolution for an object that had not known any more evolution since 1930, when it was decided to paint the canes in white to identify visually impaired people.

As you know, sonars allow you to detect objects underwater thanks to waves and the Sunu connected bracelet works on the same principle. It is an object that facilitates mobility in an urban environment and therefore complements the cane or the guide dog. The echolocation created with the help of integrated sensors allows the wave emitted by the bracelet to bounce off each object that surrounds it, thus making it possible to detect how far away obstacles are located.

image from website Ceciaa.com

The Artefact project by Ellcie healthy

Our ambition is to be able to help as many people as possible through our connected glasses. It is thanks to our team and many partners (CNRS, LEAT, University of Nice Côte d’Azur) that the Artefact project was born at the end of 2018.

Artefact is a concept that works on the principle of sensory substitution. It consists in replacing or improving one of the human being’s senses. In our case, we want to improve the perception of the wearer’s environment.  To do this, two senses are used to replace sight, which is the primary sense of spatial perception: hearing for sound perception and touch through the conversion of the image into a tactile event.

But by what means can this result be achieved in order to create a sensory replacement?

We have integrated a 3D camera on the face of our glasses. It can translate what is in front of the individual into a signal. The challenge here is therefore to retranscribe the electronic information of the image received by the camera into a detectable tactile signal. An electronic box (connected to the wrist) connected to the camera can translate the images thanks to Artificial Intelligence. Small static motion motors integrated in the box then create a contact with the skin when approaching an obstacle and thus warn the wearer. A sound is also emitted.  With this system hearing and touch are used to replace the sight of the blind or visually impaired person. 

With more than 250 million visually impaired people in the world, connected objects and new technologies are being used in the service of science and health.