We are huge fans of Alex Deans, who is committed to changing the future for people living with vision loss and blindness. It is no surprise that Alex was selected by Maclean’s (along with Molly Burke) as one of Canada’s future leaders. We asked Alex about the best new technology from 2015 and we also learned his hopes and ideas about the future of technology.
Why do you think that technology can help people who are living with vision loss?
We live in a world where technology is at our fingertips, where we have access to highly-sophisticated software for a relatively low cost. Technology can act as a catalyst for positive change, whether it be navigation, education, or communication technology for the visually impaired. It can also aid with many of the daily challenges that are faced by the visually impaired such as difficulties recognizing objects or orientation in large cities. Essentially, tech can act as a ‘second set of eyes’ for those living with vision loss and effectively make each challenge a little bit clearer.
In 2015, what was the coolest new technological development for people living with vision loss?
Research shows that 90% of people who are registered blind have some level of light perception. At Oxford University, Dr. Stephen Hicks has developed “Smart Glasses” which use a camera to send enhanced images of the surroundings to the user, allowing them to see clearer outlines of objects. I think that this technology is particularly promising because it builds on the user’s existing sight, rather than trying to solely replace it.
We know that iAid is your part of a technological solution to help people living with vision loss – can you tell us more about what’s next for iAid?
Most of the technological development of the iAid is complete. The next steps are to conduct more extensive trials with the visually impaired and to finalize the patent on the device….both of which are moving forward as we speak.
I would then seek approval to commercialize and market the device. I am aiming to keep the cost as low as possible so that the people who could benefit from the iAid the most can avail of it.