Oxford researcher wins prize for helping the blind to ‘see’

first_imgA researcher from the University of Oxford has been awarded £50,000 in prize money for his work on a device that uses the revolutionary technology of augmented reality to help blind people ‘see.’ Dr Stephen Hicks, a research associate at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience, has been working on the ‘smart-glasses’ and other related technologies for the past five years.  The Royal Society recently bestowed on him the 2013 Brian Mercer Award for Innovation, which is designed to bridge the funding gap between scientific research and venture capital investment.When completed, the device will use two miniscule cameras, an infrared projector and advanced computer software to recognise nearby objects and project them onto the lenses. The lenses then act like a personalised movie-screen for the wearer, who can see a ‘highlight-reel’ of objects in front of them. Speaking to Cherwell, Dr Hicks said, “This is the beginning of a golden-age for computerised vision. We are seeing smart recognition technology in everything from cameras to smartphones to self-driving cars. It’s entirely possible that at some point in the future this technology could be improved to the point where severely vision impaired individuals would be able to read signs or even large-print books.” A spokesperson for the Royal Society said, “Dr Hicks’ work is truly inspirational; his invention has the potential to transform the lives of many and he is a worthy recipient of the Brian Mercer Award.”One third-year Hertford biologist said, “This truly is an exciting time to be alive.”last_img

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