Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How a GPU-Powered Visual Aid Allows the Blind to ‘See’

Another futuristic gadget from the world of Star Trek fantasy is a big step closer to becoming reality thanks to pioneering computer vision and prosthetics work by researchers at the University of Oxford. In the sci-fi show, a blind character wears a VISOR, a device that wraps over his eyes and lets him “see.” Oxford professor Philip Torr, colleague Stephen Hicks and a team of researchers are helping the partially sighted achieve something similar — and potentially transforming how they interact with the world around them.

With 285 million people around the globe affected by impaired vision, per World Health Organization figures, the stakes are high. The Oxford team’s “visor” is powered by advanced computer vision techniques that use GPUs to process camera images of a user’s environment. These images are then transformed into a visualization, and made available through the lenses of a pair of glasses the team has developed. The effort has placed the team among five finalists for NVIDIA’s 2017 Global Impact Award. Our annual grant of $150,000 is given to researchers using NVIDIA technology for groundbreaking work that addresses social, humanitarian and environmental problems.