Eyeglasses read to the blind (w/ Video)

Apr 12, 2013 by Marlen Mursuli

(Phys.org) —A unique pair of eyeglasses developed by an FIU student team could revolutionize the lives of the blind, enabling them to walk into a library or a store, pick up any book or a can of soup, and read it.

The Eyetalk concept, initially conceived for a student competition in social entrepreneurship, has been hailed by venture investors as a potentially breakthrough product that could make a difference for disabled people worldwide. This week, it was recognized as one of 12 semi-finalists in the FIU Track of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Eyetalk concept wins attention, praise for social entrepreneurship innovation.

By using a pair of eyeglasses and lightweight components, Eyetalk will allow a blind user to access printed material while walking around a store or library, which now requires bulkier, more expensive equipment. The Eyetalk, still in its development stage, is designed to be portable, affordable, and operate without requiring an Internet connection. Future versions of Eyetalk will target a global market and enable users to hear information aloud in one of many languages.

The project began with a challenge issued by FIU College of Business faculty member Seema Pissaris, a successful entrepreneur who founded Games Trader, a company that went public on the . Last fall, Pissaris urged students in several of her classes to think about developing a social entrepreneurship project. FIU students Maria Pia Celestino, Viurniel Sanchez, Jesus Amundarain and Esam Mashni came forward and started working with Pissaris on a technology that had the potential to help people and turn a profit.

Focusing on the breakthrough innovation of a pair of glasses that could read to the blind, Viurniel Sanchez began to explore a target- that he and two of his had developed in a research project funded by NASA and the Department of Defense. He thought it might be reconfigured to help the blind navigate their environment.

The human inspiration for the product's development came from Miami social entrepreneur Michael Arbitman, a computer engineer who lost his sight in his 20s. He created Imuneek.com, a website designed for the disabled to share resources and connect with service providers. He met the team, heard their concept for a pair of glasses that would read, and was amazed by the potential of their technology.

"A product like this," he said, "could give me my freedom back."

The FIU team's early prototype, known as the FreedomLens, was one of 16 semi-finalists chosen from 29 nations to present at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC), February 25-30 at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business in Seattle.

The team from FIU, one of only four U.S. universities chosen to present, received an outstanding reception at the conference, where one judge said it had the potential to bring "disruptive technology" and create an entire new market.

"The students realized that they didn't have to reinvent the wheel," Pissaris said. "They are customizing a technology to meet a global social need, and creating a market-based solution."

Explore further: An innovative system anticipates driver fatigue in the vehicle to prevent accidents

More information: eyes4blind.com/

Related Stories

Aquaculture concept leaves judges 'goggle eyed'

Apr 29, 2008

Ronald Hoenig and Aaron Welch, both graduate students at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine UM Rosenstiel School students take home top prize in B-School's 6th Rothschild Entrepreneurship Competitionand ...

Virtual campus tours give students an insider's view

Sep 02, 2011

When college students begin classes this month, some arrive after getting their acceptance notices on Facebook. Others are using smartphone applications to find out which parking spots are available. And others show up after ...

Students design virtual ID badge to combat online hackers

Feb 08, 2012

A student entrepreneurial team at the University of Utah believes it has come up with a winning business plan for a virtual ID badge that operates off of any mobile device. The team, calling itself EMRID Technologies, developed ...

Students design portable Braille label maker

Sep 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A device that started out as a class project last fall is moving rapidly toward becoming a commercial product that could make the lives of millions of visually impaired people a bit easier.

Recommended for you

Catching grease to cut grill pollution

Jul 21, 2014

A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students have designed a tray that when placed under the grates of a backyard grill reduces by 70 percent the level of a harmful ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gregor1
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2013
perhaps it could tell them navigate in the world generally via gps.