This Headset Is Helping The Legally Blind See Again
Using groundbreaking technology, the eSight 3 helps the vision-impaired explore the world in 20/20
For the uninitiated, the futuristic eSight looks at first like something straight out of science fiction. But for those who wear it, its life changing benefits are very real. Launched on Wednesday, the eSight 3 promises the legally blind and those with low vision the ability to see in 20/20, all without the need for surgery.
This breakthrough is made possible with a single HD camera and two sensors which sit on the face of the eSight headset. Using images collected from the camera and data from the sensors, powerful prisms inside the device beam what the wearer is looking at to two OLED screens millimeters from the eye.
The headset is connected via a cord to a remote device which doubles as a battery (the device has a battery life of 3-4 hours). This enables the user to adjust the magnification and allows for up to 24x zoom.
Weighing in at under 4 ounces, this third generation device is significantly lighter and smaller than its predecessors. A small head strap worn around the back of the head helps balance the glasses on the wearer’s face.
The headset also connects to Wi-Fi and has an HDMI port, meaning users can stream digital content on their headsets, and can even use the device to send pictures and videos.
The eSight is just one more breakthrough in tech that is helping to make the lives of those living with vision impairment easier. Last year, students at Singularity University launched Aipoly, a smartphone app that uses machine vision to act as an intelligent assistant to non-sighted users.
Yvonne Felix, one of eSight’s earliest users who now works at the Toronto-based company, has had her life transformed by the product. Having been rendered blind after being struck by a car in childhood, Felix has lived her life without sight since the age of 13.
“For over 25 years, I lived without any useful sight,” said Felix. “I will never forget the day I tried an early prototype of eSight three years ago. That was the first time I saw my husband and two sons.”
Felix has Stargardt Disease, a form of macular degeneration. She has a blind spot that blocks 98 percent of her vision. With eSight, her vision is a near-perfect 20/25.
While eSight claims to be more than 50 percent effective across all forms of vision loss, it is better suited for those like Felix, who suffer from macular degeneration or sight loss from diabetes, rather than those who have glaucoma.
“eSight has literally transformed my life,” said Felix.
“In addition to taking care of my family, I work full-time, independently doing all of the things most people take for granted—commuting on a train, flying on planes, attending conferences, leading meetings, and giving speeches. I even compete in golf tournaments.”
Though the benefits of wearing the eSight can indeed be life-changing for those who can afford it, its current cost (the eSight will run you nearly $10,000) severely limits the number of people who can use it.
In an effort to increase access to the device, eSight announced a new affordability program to help legally blind individuals identify funding for eSight 3. This includes discounts for clinical study participation, low or no-interest payment plans, tax credits, government support programs, corporate job placements, philanthropic donations and crowdsourcing fundraising.
“One day, society will recognize the economic justification and social justice of providing a medical device like eSight 3 to the legally blind, at no cost to them,” said Felix. “Until then, eSight’s affordability program will do its best to ensure that legally blind and low vision users can obtain the device, regardless of their ability to pay.”