Many people are familiar with the popular science fiction series Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show featuring a blind character named Geordi La Forge, whose visor-like glasses enable him to see. What many people do not know is that a product very similar to Geordi’s glasses is available to assist people with vision conditions, and a NASA engineer’s expertise contributed to its development.
The JORDY ™ (Joint Optical Reflective Display) device, designed and manufactured by a privately-held medical device company known as Enhanced Vision, enables people with low vision to read, write, and watch television. Low vision, which includes macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, describes eyesight that is 20/70 or worse, and cannot be fully corrected with conventional glasses.
JORDY was inspired by the Low Vision Enhancement System (LVES), a video headset developed through a joint research project between NASA’s Stennis Space Center, Johns Hopkins University, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Worn like a pair of goggles, LVES contained two eye-level cameras, one with an unmagnified wide-angle view and one with magnification capabilities. The system manipulated the camera images to compensate for a person’s low vision limitations. Although the technology was licensed and marketed by Visionics Corporation, LVES was only commercially available for a short time.
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