Samsung’s Gear VR is no stranger to being used in the medical field, and the newest such venture comes from a company called IrisVision with visually impaired individuals in mind. On the surface, the premise of the machine is pretty simple; a relatively affordable Samsung Galaxy phone and an easily obtainable Gear VR headset use AI to adjust images in real time so that the handset’s camera can serve as the visually impaired person’s eyes. There are various adjustments and settings that the user can play around with to get a better picture, and the whole thing is underpinned by powerful AI that works to process and serve images fast enough for the visually impaired individual to be able to operate in the real world with this solution.
The IrisVision Gear VR system uses a wide range of machine learning and computer vision algorithms in concert to keep the system pumping out a constant stream of usable imagery, tuned and customized according to the user’s profile and preferences. Users can zoom in and out, adjust contrast, and even zoom in on specific parts of a scene. The system has presets in place for different condition types, including but not limited to macular degeneration and retinal disorders. The company is working on algorithms for glaucoma and the array of vision disorders that can affect central vision.
While other solutions like IrisVision’s one do exist, they’re mostly less flexible and easy to use, with inferior image quality. Another major constraint of most systems on the market right now is price. Despite the potential for quality of life improvements, most insurances do not cover visual aid systems like this one, leaving individuals to pay for it themselves. IrisVision’s system uses low-cost parts where possible, coming to a fairly palatable total price of $2,500. This pricing puts it well within reach for most visually impaired individuals, even on a fixed income; saving back $100 per month will net you one of these in less than three years’ time, and windfalls like income tax refunds can also help. Naturally, for some, obtaining and using a loan or a line of credit is also an option. The point is that this system is not something that the average person cannot afford and use, and it also has superior image quality and portability compared to more traditional solutions of its sort.