Tech for Change — Beating visual impairment with dual screens and the APQ8084

Thursday 9/5/19 09:00am
Posted By Ana Schafer
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Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

[Editor’s note: is a comprehensive source of information about consumer electronics and technology. Its “Tech for Change” series of content shines a spotlight on technical innovations that make a meaningful impact. A recent article featured eSight Corp, whose electronic eyeglasses combine computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to help people see in spite of central vision loss.]

Overcoming some visual impairments takes more than corrective lenses. Legally blind people and those living with conditions like macular degeneration, Stargardt disease, diabetic retinopathy and severe glaucoma can’t focus well enough to see clearly.

So in order to see the world in front of them, eSight Corp created electronic eyewear to bring the world into their eyes.

eSight: Helping people see despite central vision loss

eSight 3 glasses capture live footage from a camera over the nose, enhance the stream and project it onto small, high-definition screens just centimeters away from the eyes. The result is a nearly real-time image of what is in front of the wearer that makes it much easier to see small or faraway details.

eSight 3 glasses are built on the Qualcomm® APQ8084 application processor, designed to put the performance of a smartphone into low-power IoT applications like virtual reality and smart glasses. TheAPQ8084 takes the feed from the camera and runs image-processing algorithms that optimize the stream for the independent screens.

While a processor that powerful might seem an odd fit for assistive eyewear, it’s typical of the innovative use cases in which technology from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. has been popping up. eSight Corp worked with Lantronix, one of our authorized design centers, to integrate the processor on a custom, single-board computer (SBC). Lantronix then used the software running on the SBC for the performance and power efficiency they needed.

eSight Corp and Lantronix took advantage of the smartphone-caliber processor for the most valuable features of eSight 3 glasses:

  • High-speed, high-definition (21 megapixel) camera with liquid lens
  • Android 7.0
  • Sensors for detecting distance, temperature and orientation
  • Advanced UI with HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and removable SD cards
  • Two high-resolution, OLED screens for full binocular vision

eSight 3 glasses provide a wearable solution to vision impairment with up to two hours of battery life. They deliver more data through the eyes to the brain, triggering an increased reaction from the eye. The glasses allow people with poor vision to do more things with greater ease and clarity.

Not all visual impairments are the same

Making things appear bigger is a good start, but eSight 3 glasses go much further because different eye conditions affect vision differently.

The system on chip includes multiple specialized cores, including dual, 14-bit image signal processors (ISPs) for the high-resolution displays and front-facing camera. The ISPs also have camera features that support medically validated algorithms to modify and sharpen the displayed image and improve it in different lighting conditions. eSight 3 glasses use another core, the Qualcomm® Adreno™ graphics processing unit, for the graphic overlays applied to improve vision.

The algorithms and processing result in enhancements to the vision of people with a variety of eye conditions:

  • People with retinal detachment crave magnification to see more detail with fewer blind spots and floaters.
  • eSight 3 glasses have luminance and contrast settings to help with the light sensitivity associated with ocular albinism.
  • Users with retinopathy of prematurity can enhance far distance and adjust to environments with different lighting conditions.
  • eSight 3 glasses help those with macular degeneration see faces better, and attend and watch live sporting events.
  • The advanced algorithms apply color functions to help glaucoma sufferers with their loss of contrast.

Lantronix made software optimizations to minimize glass-to-glass latency, keep power consumption low and manage the thermal profile of eSight 3 glasses. For additional visual signal processing, it directed eSight Corp to the Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP SDK. Lantronix also supported certification testing in areas like radio frequency (FCC/IC) and Google Mobile Services (GMS)/Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).

eSight3 glasses connect via a think cable to a small, handheld remote control for powering on the glasses and adjusting the settings to work best for each type of vision impairment. Wearers can use the remote control for adjusting contrast, focus and color settings, as well as regulating zoom with up to 24x magnification. Unlike other assistive devices, eSight 3 glasses allow for complete mobility and let wearers take photos and stream content directly to the screens.

Next steps

We’re glad to see companies like eSight and Lantronix collaborating on products that help people work and perform the activities of daily living independently. And we’re pleased when our products contribute to life-changing designs like eSight 3 glasses.

As part of the Digital Trends “Tech for Change” video series, host Greg Nibbler interviewed our Don McGuire, the VP of marketing for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and Charles Lim, the chief technology officer of eSight. Have a look at the segment, titled eSight 3 glasses can restore the power of sight — without using much power.

Find out more about the APQ8084 application processor. Start thinking about what you can invent around a processor that gives you the features and performance of a smartphone with low power consumption.

Qualcomm APQ8084, Qualcomm Adreno, and Qualcomm Hexagon DSP SDK are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.