We recently highlighted the shortlisting of a joint project from the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Oxford University which focused on creating 'smart glasses' to help the re-enabling of sight for those with vision loss. Since that occurred, the project has been propelled forward having won the People's Choice vote for the Google Impact Challenge for 2014.
The Google Impact Challenge has been set up to support UK based charities that are trying to use technological advancements to help 'tackle problems and transform lives' both here and abroad. The competition sees four winners who claim prize funds of £500,000, whilst the remaining six finalists also receive £200,000. This year, the People's Choice vote went to the RNIB and Oxford University project for smart glasses. Past GIC winners include solar lights for off-grid communities and smart cameras for wildlife conservation.
The £500,000 winning prize is to go towards increasing the numbers of pairs of glasses in production and enable a wider testing process allowing more and more people to use them and see, quite literally, the benefits that they can bring. This figure can bring about 100 new sets of smart glasses and allow the expansion of the trial to 1,000 people with visual impairments.
To conclude, a simple quote from Neil Heslop of RNIB Solutions expressed just how startling this research and project is and the benefits it can bring when discussing a man with deteriorated sight who has used the devices, "Wow, I can see your face."