“Point and click” could soon take on a whole new meaning with the “EyeRing,” a novel finger-worn interface designed to help the visually impaired better navigate their environment. A work in progress by Roy Shilkrot and Suranga Nanayakkara at MIT Media Lab, the Bluetooth-connected device serves as a “virtual cane,” one that not only detects obstacles in its wearer’s path but also reads signs, identifies currency, and perceives color. The EyeRing can be adapted for other non-seeing applications, as well, such as helping children learn to read or assisting tourists in a new city.

EYE SEE YOU

Cranked out through the magic of three-dimensional printing, the EyeRing features a built-in camera and microprocessor that relays information to a smartphone. To begin using, simply double-click a button on the side and speak a command to define its function, whether it’s reading price tags or text or distinguishing colors. Point the device at whatever you’d like more information about—an item of clothing at a store, say—and click the same button once to snap a picture. The photo is directed to your phone, where an app uses computer-vision algorithms to crunch the image. You’ll then hear the results over an earpiece—”blue,” for instance or “$19.99.”

The 3D-printed EyeRing features a built-in camera and microprocessor that relays information to a smartphone.

“Not having to get your phone out of your pocket or purse and open it is a big advantage, we think,” Pattie Maes, a professor overseeing the project, told Technology Review. While the researchers still have kinks to work out, they believe the EyeRing could eventually retail for less than $100, perhaps even as cheaply as $50. “We want to keep working on this and make it better,” Shilkrot said. “Right now, we’re in the stage where we’re trying to prove it’s a viable solution.”

+ EyeRing

+ MIT Media Lab

[Via Technology Review]