Polish group seeks to help the blind with free smart glasses

Fri May 13, 2016 2:54pm EDT
 
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WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish non-profit organization is hoping to help the blind and visually impaired with plans to make and give away what it says will be the world's first free smart glasses.

Parsee has developed a prototype of the battery-powered glasses which have a 3D printed frame, internet protocol camera and earphone.

Pushing a button on the frame, users take pictures of an object in front of them, which the camera sends to a mobile phone app. The app identifies shapes, colors, text as well as faces and sends details about the image via audio to the earphone.

"It helps (the blind and visually impaired) in their everyday living like reading newspapers, drinking juice," Parsee project manager Bartosz Trzcinski said.

Parsee, which began as a family project to help a relative, has begun fundraising and has a $25,000 goal to complete research and development of a sleeker model of the glasses.

The project is still in the early stages of its longer-term goals of mass production and free distribution.

The current cost of producing one pair of glasses is $300 -- a figure Parsee aims to reduce once it has funds, demand and production in place.

Similar high-tech projects are in the works elsewhere. Britain's Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been working with researchers on making smart glasses, to retail at less than 300 pounds ($433), that help wearers identify shapes and determine distance, its website says.

(Reporting By Reuters Television in Warsaw; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Toby Davis)