How this VR headset helps a mother see her visually impaired daughter's world - Hindustan Times
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How this VR headset helps a mother see her visually impaired daughter's world

Jun 06, 2023 05:17 PM IST

"It made us realise just how frustrating and how her world is very different to the way her dad and I see the world," Caroline on the VR headset experience.

The launch of Apple's Vision Pro is set to pump new energy in the mixed reality technology sector. With the highly anticipated new device unveiled, people are ecstatic about the immersive high-definition viewing experience the tech promises to deliver. Meanwhile, in a distant corner of the world, far from Apple Park in Cupertino, a mother utilises a vision loss headset based on Virtual Reality (VR) to comprehend her child's visual impairment, exemplifying the diverse applications possible in the sector.

Empatheyes have created a VR simulator to give an experience of visual impairments.(Representative Image/Empatheyes)
Empatheyes have created a VR simulator to give an experience of visual impairments.(Representative Image/Empatheyes)

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How does a visually impaired perceive the world? This device tells

Caroline Henderson, a native of the United Kingdom whose daughter has visual impairments, utilises a VR device to simulate the world as viewed through her daughter's eyes in order to better comprehend her child's illness, reports BBC News. (Click here for live coverage from day 1 of Apple WWDC 2023)

Ocular albinism impairs eye pigmentation, resulting in diminished or nonexistent colour and impaired visual acuity, whereas nystagmus causes involuntary eye movement.

When Caroline and her husband tried a VR headset, they were overwhelmed by the experience. It helped them understand the frustration and challenges her daughter faces due to her visual impairment, particularly in social settings and interpreting non-verbal cues.

Caroline said, “It was very overwhelming and it made us realise just how frustrating and how her world is very different to the way her dad and I see the world,” the report added.

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The VR device stimulates 30 different eye disorders

A Belfast-based developer, Sara McCracken, motivated by her visually impaired twins, build software - the Empatheyes - that simulates various eye ailments. The app attempts to increase awareness by allowing people to experience over 30 different eye disorders in various settings like school, and playground.

The team included experts from Royal Victoria Hospital and Ulster University.

“I think sometimes the children with visual impairment, you're seeing the tip of the iceberg and not understanding what's underneath and driving that behaviour,” said McCracken to BBC News, adding that it's a very effective way of giving people the immersive impression of visual impairment.

IsVision Pro just tip of the iceberg?

Apple's debut with $3,499 mixed-reality goggles, experts say, marks a watershed moment having the potential to stir huge growth in the AR/VR technology enabling never-seen-before use cases.

The industry, however, faces challenges in being seen as more than just a casual gaming platform. But, seeing the rapid developments, with many tech giants jumping into the space (Microsoft, with their HoloLens 2 headset, Varjo, Magic Leap, and Meta with their Quest headsets), the future seems bright. (ALSO READ: Days before Apple WWDC, Meta unveils its mixed reality headset Quest 3)

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