Google Glass has been used to help people fight hearing loss, but how about blindness? Last year, a Michigan teenager by the name of Ben Yonnatan was diagnosed with retinal dystrophy, which rapidly caused him to lose a major portion of his vision. “Within a few short months, he went to having about a four-degree field of view, which is like looking through a straw,” Yonnatan’s mother, Erin Brown Conroy told Kalamazoo’s WWMT-TV Newschannel 3.
With his vision heavily restricted, Yonnatan’s future as a dancer was placed in jeopardy. As his sight continued to fade, the troubled 13 year-old’s adoptive mother leaned on a master’s degree she earned from WMU several decades ago.
“Things work out the way God plans,” Brown told WWMT-TV Newschannel 3. “What are the chances he’d be adopted into a family with some who has a professional background in blind rehabilitation? So years from that adoption date, I was able to be exactly what he needed.”
Observing how her iPhone’s camera was able to captures a large filed of view, Brown started tinkering with the idea of using the smartphone to help her son see. She later moved on to using an iPad and eventually worked her way up to Google Glass. Recognizing that the wearable’s small display fit within her son’s restricted field of view, Google’s high-tech eyewear restored a portion of Yonnatan’s vision.
“The first time I put it on, I was like, ‘Woah! Woah! Woah!'” recalled Yonnatan. “I could see seven people! I took it off and I could only see one person with one eye.”
The addition of Google Glass has expanded Yonnatan’s periphery by nearly 70. While Mountain View’s $1,500 wearable computer hasn’t caught on with the masses like some of its other products, this is further evidence that Glass can have a future. The company will have to continue working with developers to keep the product relevant and a price cut definitely wouldn’t hurt. But if people keep finding practical uses for the the next-generation monocle, it will eventually catch on.
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