A Smart Telescope for Low Vision

Award Information
Department of Health and Human Services
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
273 Granite St, Ashland, OR, 97520
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
(530) 686-8148
Business Contact:
() -
Research Institution:
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This is a proposal to build and test a Smart Telescope, a device for persons with low vision that uses computer vision algorithms to search for, detect and enhance targets such as text and faces to aid in everyday tas ks such as travel, navigation and social interactions. The practical, cosmetically acceptable packaging will consist of a miniature camera and visual display discreetly mounted on spectacles or a hat, and a compact computing device and set of controls that fit into a pocket. The Smart Telescope advances today's state of the art in assistive devices for low vision by automatically searching for, detecting and enhancing target objects even when they fill only a small portion of the device's field of view, wit hout the user having to point the device directly or accurately at the target as with optical telescopes. The Smart Telescope is small and lightweight, but large enough for the elderly to handle and control; simple to operate and easy to carry, store, rech arge, don and remove. Advanced options are hidden during day-to-day use, but easy to access when necessary. In Phase I, we developed and evaluated a working prototype and received enthusiastic feedback from subjects in our target population. In Phase II we propose to prototype a commercially viable consumer version of the Smart Telescope. The Phase II work plan has four tracks: 1) User interaction and interface design, 2) physical design and configuration, 3) software design and development, and 4) hardware design and development. Smith-Kettlewell's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) will provide expertise for the human factors portions of the project. Blindsight will design and build the device hardware from off-the-shelf components with the help of Bolton Engineering. Low vision experts Drs. Don Fletcher, Melissa Chun and Ian Bailey will work with the RERC to guarantee a practical product for the target audience. The overall aim is to create a commercial version of the proposed device for per sons with reduced visual acuity, reduced contrast sensitivity, or other loss of visual function caused by macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems, increasing mobility and independence for those with acuity be tween approximately 20/200 and 20/600. At under 1,000, the total market for such a device is estimated at up to 300,000, i.e., 10% of low vision persons in the United States. The commercial version of the Smart Telescope will significantly increase mobili ty and independence for persons with visual acuity between approximately 20/200 and 20/600, aiding them in everyday tasks such as travel, navigation, and social interactions. It will advance today's state of the art in assistive devices for low vision by i mproving on and surpassing the capabilities of the traditional optical telescope, greatly benefiting persons with reduced visual acuity, reduced contrast sensitivity, or other loss of visual function caused by macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, gl aucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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