A new pair of smartglasses launched by company eSight perform an augmented reality trick more impressive than any other headset: they let the blind see.
There is a wide range of conditions that rob people of their vision, and in most cases it starts with a blind spot in the person's central vision that gradually increases. The eSight device uses cameras and prisms to augment sight back into this area, working in conjunction with the user's natural peripheral vision.
On average, the last version of the eSight device brought users back to 20/25 vision, and eSight president and CEO Brian Mech says the new model that has just gone on sale, the eSight 3, provides even better clarity.
"The quality of the vision it restores, and the way it does it, and the size and appearance is head and shoulders above anything we've done before," Mech told Wareable. "[Users] can see pretty much as well as anyone who's normally sighted".
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The new device is also half the size and weight of the last one, at just a shade over 100g. It also includes features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a speaker and a microphone along with a wired remote control that's kept tethered so it can hold the battery, reducing more weight from the headset. The controller can be used to adjust the vision to the user's needs.
Unfortunately eSight's technology won't make a different for those who are completely blind, and even for those who aren't there's only a 77%-78% effect rate. But when it does work, it has the power to dramatically change the lives of people with visual impairments.
"They see what they used to see what they had healthy vision, pretty much," said Mech. "There's nothing artificial about it."
The eSight 3 costs $9,995, which is $5,000 less than the last version but still a lot of money, and as Mech points out, unemployment rates are higher for people with low vision. So eSight has come up with a handful of ways to ease the cost, from government support programs to low or no zero-interest payment plans. It's even launched a crowdfunding platform for people to raise money on.
Right now insurance companies aren't involved for reducing the financial burden, but Mech told us this is something eSight is working on. There's also a 15-day trial period, during which you can return the eSight for a full refund if it's not having the intended effect.