Friday, 10 November 2017 13:46

Samsung helps vision-impaired Australians see with powerful new tool


Samsung and Vision Australia have introduced "IrisVision, a wearable device with powerful magnification capabilities for people with low vision, powered by Samsung smartphones and Gear VR".

The local availability of an innovative medical device that helps provide a solution for sufferers of vision impairment using virtual reality technology has been launched today. 

IrisVision software platform "runs on a Samsung S7 smartphone and Gear VR headset".

We're told that, using powerful magnification, "IrisVision can help restore independence by assisting clients with tasks for near, intermediate or distance; whether it's reading, writing, maintaining personal care or observing the family photographs".

Steven Sherry, vice-president, Business and Enterprise Mobility at Samsung Australia, said: "At Samsung, we believe in delivering meaningful innovation in everything we do, and this project is a great example of how technology can genuinely impact someone’s life. We are very excited to have worked with IrisVision and Vision Australia to bring this device to the Australian market.”

Vision Australia chief executive Ron Hooton said: "Vision Australia supports people living with low vision to become fully independent. New technologies like IrisVision can make a substantial difference to the quality of life for some people with vision impairment.

“It helps enhance the remaining sight of people with a range of conditions, allowing them to carry out every day activities that others take for granted.”

Samsung notes that IrisVision is "one of the world’s first device that offers the ability to view at different distances and provides a field of view of up to 70 degrees whilst being able to focus automatically."

Ammad Khan, chief executive, Iris Vision, said: "IrisVision can provide people who have low vision with an accessible way back into the visual world.

“One of the most remarkable things about IrisVision is that at the heart of the system is a smartphone just like the ones people carry every day, making this an easy-to-use solution for the vision impaired.”

Developed in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins optical clinic, IrisVision utilises "customised software on a Samsung smartphone and Samsung Gear VR. When using the device, the patient can control their magnification level, and use multiple viewing modes such as full screen with bubble, bioptic/split screen, line reading and many more depending on what task you want to do or what you want to view".

Hooton added: “Thanks to Samsung’s virtual reality and smartphone technology, we have been able to bring this product to Australia.

“The partnership between Samsung, IrisVision and Vision Australia has delivered a breakthrough by combining everyday technology with a device that supports people who have low vision”.

IrisVision "can be suitable for Australians living with low vision due to a range of conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic-related implications and other stroke and neurological conditions. Anyone interested in using IrisVision must consult their qualified medical professional before proceeding".

IrisVision is available now through Vision Australia for $4000.

Before purchasing, Australians are recommended to have an assessment with Vision Australia’s clinical staff to assess if it is right for them. More information on IrisVision can be found here

Nothing in this document constitutes medical advice. Always seek advice from a qualified medical professional before using IrisVision.

For the wondering, "IrisVision Global is a Silicon Valley, California based company that specialises in developing solutions for Low Vision. IrisVision is an FDA registered Class-I medical device that is helping to redefine low vision aids, and can provide an effective and affordable solution to help people living with Macular Degeneration. Its combination of powerful virtual reality technology from Samsung and innovative custom software, developed in collaboration with some of the United States’ leading experts at the Johns Hopkins optical clinic, helps reduce hardware costs and provide an intuitive, customisable, and easy to use low vision aid for the visually impaired."

Meanwhile, Vision Australia is a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services in Australia working in partnership with Australians who are blind or have low vision to help them achieve the possibilities they choose in life.

Vision Australia supports more than 27,500 people of all ages, life stages and circumstances through 28 Vision Australia centres in Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and through outreach programmes in the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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