« [ctrl] [alt]: alternatives, encounters, movements | Main | DIGITAL TERRITORY: BUBBLES »

May 24, 2006

Seeing Machine


Accessing Texts, Visual Poetry and Architecture

MIT researchers have developed a portable Seeing Machine, a system that could aid some blind people by projecting images directly onto the retina of the eye. Project leader Elizabeth Goldring first conceived of the device ten years ago when she was blind in both eyes due to hemorrhages in her retinas. (Surgery has since enabled her to see with one eye.) A physician examined Goldring with a scanning laser opthalmoscope (SLO), a $100,000 diagnostic medical device that uses a laser to project an image on the retina and detect damage. The Seeing Machine is based on similar technology but the prototype cost just $4,000. (The image here depicts Goldring looking at "an image she created to approximate what she sees when she looks through her seeing machine at an image of a staircase.") From MIT News Office:

Recently the machine received positive feedback from 10 visually challenged people with a range of causes for their vision loss who tested it in a pilot clinical trial...

Participants used the machine to view 10 examples of Goldring's visual language. A majority -- six -- interpreted all 10 "word-images" correctly. "They responded really well to the visual language," Goldring said. "One woman told me she would love to see recipes written that way."

They also used the machine to navigate through a virtual environment, raising the potential for "previewing" unfamiliar buildings a person wants to visit...

All of the participants reported that the machine "may have the potential to assist their mobility in unfamiliar environments," according to the Optometry article. Concluded Goldring: "A couple of them said they'd tried every seeing aid available (magnifying devices, etc.), and this was by far the best, even in this rough, rough shape." Link [posted by David Pescovitz on Boing Boing]

Posted by jo at May 24, 2006 10:30 AM