Technology allows visually impaired to enjoy TV

January 25, 2008

People with low vision can improve their ability to watch television with a new technique that allows them to enhance the contrast of images of people and objects of interest on their digital televisions.

People with low vision can improve their ability to watch television with a new technique that allows them to enhance the contrast of images of people and objects of interest on their digital televisions, according to a report in the January issue of the Journal of the Optical Society of America.

The new method, developed by the Institute's low vision expert Dr Eli Peli, involves making simple changes within the "decoders" of digital televisions, which improves the contrast enhancement. To test the technology, the research team presented eight digital videos to 24 subjects with vision impairment and six with normal vision. Each patient was given a remote control, which allowed him/her to increase or decrease the contrast of the image.

The researchers found that even subjects with normal vision selected some enhancement and that the amount of enhancement selected by those with visual impairment varied depending upon the level of contrast sensitivity loss they experienced due to their disease.

Dr Peli is now working with US firm Analog Devices Inc, to create a prototype chip that could be included in future generations of digital televisions.