Our depth perception doesn’t work without two eyes. However an estimated 285 million people worldwide suffer from some form of visual impairment in at least one theirs. The loss of sight in just one eye also means the loss of one’s ability to accurately judge short distances. However, a team of researchers have devised an ingenious solution to restore binocular vision.
With natural binocular vision, our eyes view objects at slightly varying angles from one another to produce a pair of distinct perspectives which our brains then interpret as a single 3-D image. The Mono-glass system, developed by a team from the University of Yamanashi, replicates this process using commercially available components as stand-ins for the non-functional fleshy bits.
The current design iteration of Mono-glass relies on Wrap 920AR augmented reality glasses, normally used for working in Autodesk 3ds Max, to act as artificial eyes, generating images with a pair of integrated cameras. The team’s custom software then processes this information to calculate the relative distance of each item in the field of view and synthesize the data into a single image. This image is then displayed in the patient’s good eye with close objects appearing in focus while progressively distant items grow increasingly blurry, like the one below.
Unfortunately, the Mono-glass is barely out of the concept stage of development and faces numerous technological hurdles before release. The team must find a more portable solution with which to replace the external quad-core PC that currently handles image processing. They also hope to eventually replace the stereoscopic cameras with a personal range-finder akin to a wearable Kinect to improve the system’s overall visual acuity.