My experience trying out the OxSight Smart Glasses

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of trialling out smart glasses, which are being developed by technology company OxSight.

Partial sight is required in order to benefit from wearing the glasses. I live with an eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa which means I have no useful vision in one eye and less than 1% in the other eye, in addition to also having Cataracts in this eye. Therefore, I was in doubt whether the glasses would work for me.

However, after a quick demonstration on how to use them, I tried them on and I immediately noticed the massive difference wearing the glasses made to my vision. I was able to see my surroundings, including a television screen, and a man walking into the room and sitting in the chair opposite from me. Also, wearing the glasses outside, I could see the contrasting colours of the pavement and roads. I even noticed some people whizzing past on bikes, as well as identify lampposts which I wouldn’t normally see unless they were detected by my cane.

I was very ecstatic and thrilled that the glasses could help me see again. Moreover, I felt delighted to be able to see my wall clock at home, which I haven’t done in over 4 years when my vision began to rapidly deteriorate.

In my honest opinion, I believe these glasses will greatly assist partially sighted people. These glasses have various settings to cater to different visual impairments. For example, changing the colours to black and white, or switching to use inverted colours. However, the glasses are slightly heavy, and you do feel the weight if you were to wear them all day. Also, the battery pack which is attached to the glasses overheats quickly.

Other slight issues, which I’m sure will be fixed in the final model, are firstly, it is difficult to use when reading printed material as text appears blurry. And secondly, if you’re looking at a group of people, the glasses sees one very large person instead.

Overall, the glasses do take some getting used to, but they are a great help. I’m looking forward to trialling them out in social environments, like walking to my local shop and navigating through the aisles and seeing if I can identify products. I’m also really interested to try them whilst trying to make a cup of tea with them and other daily tasks.

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Photo of Bhavni Makwana wearing the OxSight Smart Glasses.
Check out the video below where you can see me trialling the glasses!

For more updates and to follow my journey using these glasses, please visit my Facebook page ‘RP Awareness & Fundraisers’ by Bhavini Makwana by clicking on the link below. Thanks!

https://www.facebook.com/rpawarenessandfundraisers/

Written by Bhavini Makwana

The Amazon Echo Dot review

Every now and again, smart devices are introduced without needing modification for vision impaired people to use because they function by using other senses. An example of this is the smart speaker/voice assistant. Smart speakers are screenless and can only be activated by voice.

A smart speaker which I highly recommend using is the Amazon Echo Dot, which is a speaker with a microphone that connects to the Internet. You use your voice to speak to the device and Alexa, the voice assistant, will talk back to you.

The range of skills Alexa has includes:

  • Finding out the current time
  • Setting timers and alarms
  • Playing radio stations
  • Getting a local weather forecast
  • Controlling lights, mains plugs with timers and other smart home devices
  • Planning journeys on public transport
  • Playing audiobooks
  • Creating to do lists and calendars
  • And much more!

Before you can use the Echo Dot it requires setting up, which you will only ever need to do once. You will need a smartphone, tablet or computer connected to the internet in order to link the Echo Dot to your Amazon account. If you don’t have an Amazon account you will need to sign up on the Amazon website prior to setting up. After you’ve completed the setup process you’re ready to use the Echo Dot.

As a blind person the Echo Dot has been extremely useful in assisting me with my daily routine. I’m surprised at how much I use the device to perform the aforementioned skills, as it is a lot quicker to use voice commands than using my computer, even though I am a competent computer user.

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Photo of Graham, ELVis Technology Officer, with an Amazon Echo Dot.

The Echo Dot costs £50 on the Amazon UK website, although Amazon has regular sales so you can probably buy it for less.  It is also available as the Amazon Echo with a bigger speaker which costs £150. Moreover, Google has recently launched its own smart speaker called Google Home with voice control. Both products can be purchased online but are also available at retailers like PC World and John Lewis.

In conclusion, smart speakers are beneficial for vision impaired people, however I recommend that you research thoroughly which product is able to meet your needs before buying one.

Here is a YouTube video demonstrating the Amazon Echo which is definitely worth watching!

Written by Graham Page