Night blindness is a common issue for people with low vision, especially those with Retinitis Pigmentosa. While your vision may be adequate for mobility in daylight, as the night draws in and contrast begins to drop, night blindness occurs.
When i had sufficient vision for this to be a problem for me, I was always tempted by night vision goggles. There have even been research projects exploring this possibility. The good news is it can really help with mobility, the bad news night vision goggles are expensive, cumbersome and heavy.
Due to these restrictions i never quite took the plunge. But an interesting development once again has me intrigued in night vision. Thanks to a new breakthrough the advantages of night vision goggles can be had in a spectacle frame. There is still a need for external power, but great to see this moving forwards.
As augmented reality products advance it would be great to see this technology integrated to enable low light navigation.
Night vision goggles
Technology has a diversity problem, as do many other companies. An immediate point of change is the hiring process, my interest was peaked from a comment by Leslie Miley, of Slack. It was proposed that a blind assessment process is used during hiring, stripping applications of identifiable data.
This is an interesting proposition and similar to one i have been proposing for a while. Don’t simply do blind assessments, use blind people to do the hiring.
Passed the application assessment stage, blind people really come into their own. The inability to see the applicant massively reduces implicit bias. It cannot be overstated how important it is to remove those unconscious bias that we all possess but find it difficult to identify. Removing the ability to visually trigger these unconscious biases will assist in improving the diversification of the hiring process.
But couldn’t you just wear a blindfold? Why use someone who is blind?
Apart from this being a terrible gimmick, social interactions can be difficult when you remove the vision of one participant. However, blind people have had years to perfect non visual interactions. To the point where if I dont have my guide dog or cane with me, in social interactions no one ever realises i am blind. I can maintain eye contact – which, greatly eases the comfort of the other participant, something a blindfolded participant would be unable to do.
Blind people have also been spending many years understanding how to read people without visual cues. Actually listening to someone, rather than adding a level of visual distraction. These advanced listening skills are something that take years to hone, and blind people have been perfecting them their entire lives.
So if yo want to diversify your hiring process, start by diversifying your hiring team.
Project Tango seemed like a revelation a couple of years ago, a system that could do 3D mapping of enviroments in a small package. Now with the demands of inside out tracking for gaming we are starting to see other products hit the market.
I still feel this technology has a long way to go, eventually being shrunk down to a sensor that is as small if not smaller than today’s front facing phone cameras. Once we arrive at that point we enter the realm of discrete technology that is capable of augmenting reality in interesting ways.
I really see this being a product that is immensely helpful for the assistive technology arena. I will definitely be shaping the future of such products.
Mixed reality systems
Exciting news from Microsoft that future versions of windows will run on ARM. Perhaps even more impressive it will emulate 32-bit x86, there is even a demo of Photoshop running on a Qualcomm 820.
If Microsoft can really improve the Narrator as has been mentioned recently this could be a great unification across all their devices. Not to mention it may instantly solve their lack of apps on mobile, opening the door for a Surface mobile phone.
Windows 10 to run on ARM
Following on from my previous post. This gesture based system from Leap Motion would make more sense as a control system. Having to touch physical buttons to toggle modes is not as subtle as hand gestures. As computer vision does move forward into a more mainstream Ar product I would expect to see gesture based systems like this come into play.
Leap Motion gesture control system
With computer vision rapidly improving, it was only a matter of time before we began to see head mounted computer vision systems. Horus, has a unique approach in that it doesn’t rely on connectivity for the visual processing. That means it will even work when the data connection is down. It covers some interesting basics of computer vision for the blind, reading and facial recognition for example. It does however, suffer from what i always conside the ultimate pitfall in these products. it was designed specifically for the blind, meaning the cost is high, as the market is small.
There is definitely space for a head mounted digital assistant. So with a little shift in the market this product could be aimed at a wider spectrum bringing down the cost. Therefore, making it highly accessible.
However, this is a wonderful step forward and I am looking forward to seeing where products like this go.
COmputer vision for the blind
Fantastic to see Microsoft improving their accessibility efforts. I always felt they had the ability to challenge Apple for a unified accessible experience across their product lines. Having the same tools available on desktop, notebook, surface, xbox and even the phone, is highly appealing. Keeping an eye on this for the future,
Microsoft improving Windows 10 accessibility
Night mode was brought to Android Twitter last month, so it was only a matter of time before it landed on the iPhone. I believe Apple could take this one step further though. I would like to see night mode an OS level option. With apps having alternative themes for night mode that are triggered as you toggle Night Mode in the OS. This would be far simpler than toggling it in a per app basis. I would say it’s likely Apple may introduce this in 2017, to pair with the OLED screen, simple because it will improve battery life.
I love this, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. But to someone who is blind it is worth far more than that. Will definitely be tuning in to this podcast!
I list dark themes as one of the key inclusive design decisions next to dynamic font sizing. It’s great to see Microsoft heading in this direction and perhaps even adding a second dark theme.
I am unsure why the retina burning white backgrounds has held strong for so long. After all everyone uses their phones in dimly lit environments where dark themes mark perfect sense.
Would love to see this in Mac OS as well as iOS in the near future. With the transition to OLED screens that is highly likely.