Did you know that visual impairment is seven times more common than blindness? Visually impaired people experience many mobility problems, making them highly dependent on various aids and support from third parties. The main causes for visual impairment are macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), diabetic retinopathy (DR) and brain injuries.
Explanation of the innovation
Biel Glasses has developed innovative smart glasses that focus on enhancing mobility of the visually impaired. The smart glasses use 3D vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to visualize obstacles and mobility risks in the environment of a person. The analyzed obstacles will be visualized with support of mixed reality to the remaining vision of the user. Biel Glasses addresses an unmet need, as the visually impaired have static solutions like face-recognising or reading assistive tools, but there is no such solution regarding their mobility and autonomy. The main goal of Biel Glasses is to solve the mobility problems of people with a visual impairment by enhancing the visual field.
We interviewed our contact person from Biel Glasses, Iñaki Casanova, to get more insights on the company and their innovation. Iñaki states: “Biel Glasses is empowering the visually impaired to move in a safer way. Furthermore, we are revolutionising the market in a way that we use the remaining visual capacity of each patient adapting reality to their specific needs.”
A quote from one of our contacts from the Innovators Club: “The glasses look great and have the potential of overcoming one of the largest barriers to the adoption of these kind of assistive devices, which is the conspicuous aesthetics commonly associated with them.”
How does it impact patient’s health/healthcare?
One of our contacts from the Innovators Club who has a visual impairment himself, was interviewed about Biel Glasses. He explained thoroughly the added value of Biel Glasses: “Resolving mobility challenges are likely to positively affect employment prospects, social inclusion and quality of life in general. Above all else, the fact that Biel Glasses is picking up this challenge is its biggest advantage. As far as I know, there is currently no manufacturer in this space that chooses to focus specifically on mobility challenges. Some even warn user’s not to use their device in traffic and for good reason. Mobility challenges are incredibly complex because more often than one would like, split second decisions need to be made in a safety critical environment. This makes development of a sufficient solution incredibly difficult. However, at the same time, if you do manage to find a solution, the potential impact on quality of life would be enormous.”
What is the story behind the innovation?
The company was named after Biel, the son of Constanza and Jaume, the founders of the company. Biel is a child born with low vision, a visual deficiency 7 times more common than blindness that cannot be fixed with glasses or surgery. Its worst consequence is mobility problems (falls, injuries and disorientation) that cause dependence and isolation. When his parents realised that Biel’s eyes did not adapt to the world, they decided to adapt the world to the eyes of Biel. To do so, they assembled a team of experts in optics, medicine and technology to develop smart glasses. The smart glasses use 3D vision and AI to perceive obstacles, mobility risks and other relevant elements of the scene. In addition, it uses mixed reality so the visually impaired can perceive the obstacles with their remaining vision. In the end, this will solve mobility problems and will increase the personal autonomy.
Success story of Biel Glasses
Biel Glasses is still in a developing phase. However, they are proud to be having success testing the device in a controlled environment. The data obtained so far for the validation of the product are the results of tests carried out in a controlled environment. These tests consist of mobility tests with people with low vision. In the controlled environment, Biel Glasses is able to create multiple circuits that simulate outer space with obstacles and changes in the ground surface. So far, the preliminary results demonstrate an effective and measurable improvement in mobility, based on the improvement of the ability to perceive and avoid obstacles and changes in surfaces in all cases. The time carrying out the circuit with glasses was reduced by 40% in comparison without glasses. Furthermore, the glasses lead to a general increase in self-confidence when moving in more than 70% of cases.
Future wishes for Biel Glasses
A contact from our Innovators Club mentioned: “As both a researcher in this field and a prospective end user of these kind of products, I’m hoping Biel Glasses will be the first one to enter the market successfully and make a real impact on one of the largest challenges faced by people with visual impairments, i.e. mobility.”
This post may have given you some insights into how Biel Glasses is approaching to resolve the mobility problems of people with low vision. If you would like more information about Biel Glasses or if you are interested in a pilot with Biel Glasses, please do not hesitate to contact us at: