Imagine if technology could give the world’s 300 million blind population the opportunity to see again. Blind mothers could see their babies for the very first time, and children born with low vision could get their very first glimpse of nature. Millions of people could do simple things they miss so much, like reading a newspaper, seeing a work of art or simply taking in the world around them.
While blindness isn’t curable just yet, new technology created by a Toronto-based company called eSight is giving many the opportunity to see again – and providing hope to millions of blind people around the world.
Of course, the biggest question is, what exactly is eSight? In short, they’re electronic glasses that give legally blind individuals the ability to see. The wireless device is comprised of three parts: a headset, a custom prescription lens frame that is attached to the inside of the headset using magnets, and a controller. The eSight headset features a tiny high-speed camera that’s housed just above the bridge of the nose. This camera sends a live video stream to the controller, where it is run through eSight’s software and transmitted onto two LED screens located inside the headset without any delay.
The device’s wireless controller allows the wearer to adjust eSight’s video settings based on their individual needs and current activity. ESight’s VP of Outreach and Advocacy Taylor West explains, “Everyone will have a different comfort level for how much they need to zoom into see people’s faces, for example. You can use how ever much magnification or zoom is comfortable for you.”
In addition to a 14x zoom and autofocus features, the controller also enables wearers to adjust focus and brightness, in addition to changing both contrast and color. This is because many people with certain types of vision loss find it easier to read white text on a black background, while many others find that reading black text on a yellow background puts less strain on their eyes.
Many people are excited to discover that the eSight device features an HDMI port that can be connected to their TV or cable box, allowing device owners to view whatever is on their television directly on the screens inside their headset. The device can even be connected to a computer, making it easier to read online articles or eBooks.
Each eSight device comes with a 4GB memory card that holds the eSight software. Anytime eSight releases a new software update, all device owners are shipped a brand new memory card to install. This means that eSight owners won’t have to worry about their investment being outdated in the coming years and can rest assured that they’ll always have the latest software on their device.
Who can use eSight?
eSight’s technology works for many types of vision loss, particularly those with either central vision loss (i.e. those who have a blind spot in their center of vision) or those with general field loss (i.e. all vision is diminished). There’s a common misconception that most – if not all – blind people have absolutely no vision at all, when in fact 86% actually have some degree of vision remaining. That’s a huge portion of the blind population – nearly all of whom can benefit from this technology.
For example, those with Age-Related Macular Degeneration – the leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 60 – will experience blind spots in their center of vision that typically grow larger over time. As a result, many everyday activities such as driving, reading, writing or seeing faces will become difficult – if not impossible – ultimately limiting their independence.
Alex Dalimonte of eSight explains, “eSight helps make details sharper and makes everyday tasks easier and a less frustrating for those with low vision.”
What is it like to regain sight with eSight?
After learning more about this technology, we realized what a huge impact it could have on many of our employees’ lives. Last week, the eSight team spent three days meeting dozens of blind employees and fitting them for eSight devices. Needless to say, it was an exciting and inspiring week for many here at IB Milwaukee.
Stay tuned! Next week, we’ll be sharing the inspiring first-hand experiences of several blind employees here at IB Milwaukee who were able to regain vision using the eSight device.