At first glance, eSight’s headsets look a lot like any other VR or AR gear out there. But while most virtual reality systems are built to make digital worlds more realistic, the eSight aims to do just the opposite, using augmented reality headsets and digital technology to help bring the real world to individuals who are legally blind.
The latest version, the eSight 3, is a lighter and cheaper version than the company’s previous models, but they all work on the same principles. Using a high-speed HD camera and two OLED displays, video is processed algorithmically to enhance contrast and quality, which allows users with vision issues to better see the world around them. It’s a fully portable device, with roughly six hours of battery life that’s controlled using an attached remote.
There are also some technical challenges that eSight had to consider when designing a device that’s designed to help replicate human vision. Low-latency is key, to ensure that the viewer is seeing the world in as close to real time as possible, as is maximizing peripheral vision so that users don’t get nauseous or lose balance. The eSight is also designed to automatically focus, allowing users to transition between nearsighted objects to long distance at ease, as well as offering the ability to manually zoom in on items.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is taking advantages of recent improvements in technology from VR headsets and smartphones that have trickled down to improve the latest version of the eSight. So far, the company has sold roughly a thousand units, but at $10,000 apiece, they’re not cheap (and most insurances apparently don’t cover the product), although eSight’s chief executive Brian Mech notes to the WSJ that getting devices to users is “a battle we are starting to wage.”
The eSight obviously isn’t a device for everyone. But it’s nice to see that with all of today’s rapid technological advances that there are companies working to take leaps forward to help improve the lives of others.