A scientist who has invented a pair of intelligent spectacles that can help the blind to “see” with simple visual images and descriptions of nearby signs and objects has won a major scientific prize.
Stephen Hicks of the University of Oxford said that the £50,000 prize money will be used to develop the glasses further so that they become a cheap and effective way for partially-sighted people to navigate through public places.
Computer-aided vision has in the past concentrated on the high-tech and expensive use of tiny silicon chips that can be implanted into the eye to provide a stronger visual signal to the light-sensitive cells of the retina.
However, Dr Hicks' device does not involve invasive medical procedures and can be worn on the nose like ordinary glasses, making it simpler, cheaper and safer than chip implants.
The smart glasses use tiny cameras and software to recognise nearby objects and to project them in a simple and intuitive way onto the lenses of a pair of glasses, which act like personal movie screens to the partially sighted.