High-tech glasses help guide the visually impaired

By Kim Thuy   February 24, 2016 | 05:45 pm GMT+7

Technology developed in Vietnam that enables the visually impaired to more easily navigate their way through daily life is set to be rolled out in a pilot program funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology. 

The eyeglasses, named Magic Eyes 2EX, were created by Dr. Nguyen Ba Hai, a lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City-based University of Technology and Education.

The eyeglasses are equipped with a sensor to alert the wearer, through a series of vibrations, to nearby objects in front, behind or beside them.

A thousand pairs of the glasses will be provided for free for visually-impaired people who are listed as belonging to poor households.

The pilot project is expected to be completed within a year and is estimated to cost about VND5.57 billion ($250,000), sourced from State funds, including investment capital for research and development, analysis and evaluation work and the production of 1,000 glasses, according to Ministry of Science and Technology.

If successful, the Magic Eyes 2EX will be mass-produced with an expected retail price of about VND2 million.

There are also plans to upgrade several function from the current model, such as adding adjustable vibration intensity, improved obstacle detection and the ability to operate in all light conditions.

Its battery will also be upgraded to give it a life of up to 24 hours. Dr Hai is also considering installing some entertainment programs.

The first version of the magic eyeglasses looked like a hat, weighed about two kilograms and would have had a retail price of up to VND20 million. The glasses being used in the pilot program are the ninth generation of the device. 

At present, about 1.2 million people suffer visual impairment in Vietnam, among whom 300,000 people are totally blind.

Dr.Hai told VnExpress that he hoped in the near future, more magic eyeglasses will be produced to meet the demand of the roughly 400,000 visually-impaired people living in poverty.