Following on from the past couple of weeks VIDA Insights (Blind Tech – Part 1 and 2), this week I (Dave) am sharing my thoughts about what people with a vision impairment should be getting excited about in 2018.
As mentioned previously, the world’s largest trade show for technology, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), took place in Las Vegas from the 9 – 12 January 2018. This show used to showcase all of the major developments, new technologies and innovations, however, although it’s still a massive show, the larger players hold their own events throughout the year where they launch or demonstrate their latest products.
Last week we explained what AI (Artificial Intelligence), VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) are and gave a few examples of how these technologies are being used.
We saw, towards the end of 2017, some very clever devices come to the market that were specifically for people with a vision impairment such as Microsoft’s Seeing AI and the OrCam MyEye wearable artificial vision device. This year will see further developments in wearable technology for vision impaired people with this technology set to be able to provide accurate scene descriptions, read street signs and recognise people by using facial recognition. In addition, it is likely that these devices will allow you to read documents such as menus and identify products on a supermarket shelf.
Samsung have bought themselves in to the heart of this technology party when they unveiled their updated ‘Relúmĭno’ device at the CES 2018 exhibition. Combining a Smart phone with a VR headset, Relúmĭno uses complex image processing algorithms to enhance someone’s vision using the power of AI combined with the convenience of VR. This is very much for enhancing someone’s vision so not particularly useful for someone with little or no sight but to have a tech giant such as Samsung creating these devices can only be a good thing.
We’ll also see further advancements in the ‘Smart Hub’ or ‘Digital Assistants’ such as the Amazon Echo. With Microsoft and Apple releasing their version this year, the competition between these and Google is going to be very interesting. Early indication is that Amazon is already working on making their devices such as the Echo a mobile device you can use on the move. It is likely to work via a headset with microphone and behind the ear type headphone enabling the device to be used with no hands. If they combine this tech with a GPS system then this could open up a whole new navigation and information device for people with a vision impairment. Furthermore, having the likes of Amazon and Google competing for sales, the prices are likely to be competitive too!
2018 will see further developments in accessibility either through built-in speech engines or more likely through voice recognition.
For people that have some useful vision, then the release of 8K and HDR televisions will mean a sharper picture with deeper colours and the blackest black yet.
We already have a few TV’s that have accessible programme guides but they are few and far between.
Sadly I personally don’t think that I’ll be driving a car in 2018, however, I will be keeping my own eye on the developments in this area. And I wonder if 2018 will see our parcels being delivered by drones??
If there is a particular device that you are hoping will be developed in 2018 then please get in touch with us and tell us what it is… we’ll be keen to follow developments with you.
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
Interested to learn more about VIDA Training? Read about our Training and Consultancy packages, specialising in Vision Impairment and Disability Awareness, Communication and Team Building or contact us for further information.
Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.