VR exhibit allows the blind to ‘see’ art thanks to special gloves

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Forget massive headsets. An art exhibit in Prague is helping blind and visually impaired users to touch artwork in virtual reality thanks to special gloves. The Touching Masterpieces exhibit offers visitors a series of 3D models of famous statues to “view” via haptic feedback in the gloves. The exhibit debuted last week at the National Gallery of Prague, where several users were allowed to test it: The project began with the work of Neurodigital Technologies, a Spanish VR startup working in tandem with the Leontinka Foundation for the blind and visually impaired, Geometry Prague, and the National Gallery. Neurodigital began…

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Editorial: Bloomberg spins Apple’s Event as a desperate, blind stab for cheap iPads in education

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Bloomberg’s latest scoop uses Apple’s upcoming education event as an opportunity to advance the idea that Google’s Chromebooks (and Android tablets!) are taking over new markets while iPads stare into the inky black void of doom. That’s wrong, here’s why.
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Gold and Titanium Restore Vision to Blind Mice

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Restoring eyesight to those with poor eyesight or suffering from eye diseases has been a goal of the medical and scientific community for years. Last year saw several developments that brought us closer to to this goal, from reversing retinal degeneration to creating bionic eyes to even an FDA-approved form of gene therapy. The latest research attempt takes a metallic approach: researchers from Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology of China tried their hand at curing blindness using gold and titanium.

The team’s research, published in the journal Nature Communications, show this method can successfully restore eyesight in mice. Specifically, the scientists replaced the mice’s deteriorated photoreceptors — sensory structures in eyes that respond to light — with artificial photoreceptors, made using titanium dioxide and gold nano-wires.

To test their artificial receptors, the team first genetically engineered the mice to encourage the degradation of their natural receptors. Using four to five mice at a time, the researchers implanted the metallic receptors and watched as their subjects began responding to green, blue, and ultraviolet light. Their pupils also began to dilate, confirming the new photoreceptors were working and that the mice were responsive to light. The photoreceptors were left in for eight weeks, during which none of the mice showed signs of negative side effects or injury.

That being said, it was difficult to determine what the mice were seeing, and how clear their vision was. Furthermore, the replacement photoreceptors could not restore full color vision. While this probably wouldn’t be a huge concern for some people suffering from blindness, it’s still a sign that the team has more work to do. 

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However, their work leaves open the possibility for further development, and a technique that could potentially address many medical issues. This method could used as a form of treatment for retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and macular degeneration. According to the National Eye Institute, roughly 1 in 4,000 people worldwide are affected by RP, while many over the age of 60 are at risk of developing macular degeneration; their chances are doubled if they smoke regularly.

However, the future is already looking clearer. With new developments coming in regularly, it seems we’re well on our way to returning eyesight to the millions of people who wish to see the world again.

The post Gold and Titanium Restore Vision to Blind Mice appeared first on Futurism.

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Microsoft’s Soundscape app helps blind people get around town with 3D audio cues

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After roughly four years in the making, Microsoft’s Soundscape app for guiding people with vision impairment around cities is now available for iOS in the US and the UK. The aim is to provide 3D audio cues that not only help you find your chosen destination – whether that’s a university building or a coffee shop – but also to make you aware of exactly where you are and what’s around you as you walk. Microsoft says that Soundscape achieves this by pairing with a stereo headset and calling out the names of roads and landmarks that you pass by.…

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Be My Eyes for iOS adding Microsoft tech support for blind or impaired customers

The iOS app Be My Eyes announced that it will be offering support for blind or impaired customers through Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk in the latest release of the app.

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Apple’s HomePod bested by Google Home Max, Sonos in blind test


Apple’s HomePod has, by all measures, been a huge success. In a week of reviews, I’ve yet to stumble on any strong criticism of the device, or any notable shortcomings that can’t be fixed via a future software update. Noted Apple fanboy John Gruber even waxed poetic about the power cord, of all things: The power cord is perhaps the nicest power cord I’ve ever seen for any product. The cable is covered with a nice fabric, and it’s very supple. For all the praise heaped on Apple this week, the one bit that’s near-universal is the HomePod’s high marks…

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Blind test sees Google Home Max beat the Apple HomePod

The Apple HomePod has been getting rave reviews since it launched last week. Its limitation to Apple Music has been largely criticized but its sound quality was universally praised and many called it the best-sounding smart speaker out there. But Yahoo Finance’ David Pogue decided to test that by making a blind shootout between the $ 150 Amazon Echo Plus, the $ 200 Sonos One, the $ 350 Apple HomePod and the $ 400 Google Home Max. Spoiler alert: the Apple HomePod finished second to last. The test involved a panel of five people, among which a sound technician and a professional violinist,…

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Microsoft’s Seeing AI app for the blind now reads handwriting

Artificial intelligence took center stage at Microsoft's AI Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. Aside from announcing AI smarts for a range of software — from Bing to Office 365 — the tech titan is also ramping up its Seeing AI app for iOS, which…
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Hulu lawsuit centers on lack of audio options for blind users

While captions help deaf and limited hearing viewers enjoy video content, a separate audio track describing actions helps blind watchers understand what's going on. But not all content platforms have the latter feature. A group of blind and visually-…
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