Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Focusing on Danger

PostedJune 5, 2004

Download File (mp3)

A simple stroll can be dangerous for the visually impaired.  Even with a cane or a Seeing Eye dog, those with very poor eyesight may not avoid things like tree branches.  To side step that problem, engineers at the University of Washington have invented a "wearable low vision aid."  A headstrap holds a small video camera in place to the side of one eye, while a fiber optic laser display rests near the other eye.  The camera highlights nearby objects, while a backpack-carried computer tracks how close you get.  If there's a hazard, the laser projects a warning directly onto your retina.  This won't yet work for totally blind people, though, since some healthy photoreceptors in the eye are necessary.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.