We all use technology to make our lives easier. From apps that help track your health to GPS that guides you to a new restaurant, it is such a part of our daily lives that we take it for granted. For a sight impaired individual though, much of the common technology doesn’t help them.
So when a device is designed specifically for the blind, it is a life-changing event. Horus, named after the ancient Egyptian god who lost an eye in a fight, is a high tech wearable device that uses cameras, sensors, and machine learning to help vision impaired people “see” the world around them. In this article by The Engineer, it talks about the device in more detail:
Device for the blind uses computer vision and machine learning | The Engineer
A new wearable device called Horus is using a combination of computer vision, machine learning and audio cues to improve the lives of visually impaired people.
Developed by a Swiss startup called Eyra, Horus consists of a headband with stereo cameras on one end that can recognise text, faces and objects. Information from the cameras is fed via a 1m cable into a smartphone-sized box containing a battery and a NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. This provides GPU-accelerated computer vision, deep learning and sensors that process, analyse and describe the images from the cameras.
Feedback and instruction are delivered via bone conduction audio technology that allows the wearer to hear descriptions even in noisy environments. Similar technology has been developed by BAE Systems for the military and adapted for the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) America’s Cup team.
The user is able to activate different functionalities via intuitively shaped buttons on both the headset and the pocket unit. As well as learning and recognising objects and faces, and reading texts from flat and non-flat surfaces, Horus helps users navigate using audio cues. 3D sounds with different intensity, pitch, and frequency represent the position of obstacles, providing assistance in a similar way to parking sensors on a car.
Horus can also be prompted to give a short audio description of what the cameras are seeing, whether that is a room full of people, a photograph or a landscape.
In this video, the creators of Horus discuss how the concept was developed and more about how the device works. Horus includes a headset and a pocket computer that processes images and other data, extracting information and describing it to the user through an audible message. It is in the testing phase right now with a sizable waiting list, but should be available to the public in either 2017 or 2018:
The cost of Horus is estimated to be around $2,000. Even though it is a bit expensive, it could prove priceless with achieving independence for the blind. Not only can it help read a book, but it assembles a database of contacts with the ability for facial recognition, and it also identifies inanimate objects in the same way. It helps with navigation, preventing the user from running into objects while walking.
Read more about its features in the article by New Atlas:
Horus wearable helps the blind navigate, remember faces and read books
Horus can also build a kind of face-based contacts list by scanning a new face and prompting the user to assign a name. It will then alert the wearer whenever it spots that person again. The same can be done with inanimate objects to help a blind person distinguish between a bottle of juice and a bottle of milk. The device’s object recognition apparently even works in two dimensions, allowing it to describe photographs, read text on signs or even turn any book into an audio book.
In a navigation mode, Horus uses its stereo-camera setup to perceive the distance to objects in front of the user, and will respond with a system of audio cues like parking sensors in a car: the closer something is the faster the device will beep, communicating direction by focusing the sound more in either the left or right ear.
Read the full post here: Horus wearable helps the blind navigate, remember faces and read books
Like most technology, the price will eventually come down because there will be other companies duplicating the idea. This amazing wearable technology for the blind will help so many people live more independently. It opens up a whole new world of deep learning with technology.