The Romanian startup called “.lumen”, which was founded in 2020 by Cornel Amariei, Dr. Gabriel Chindriş and Mihai Ivașcu, created the first glasses in the world that help blind people move around.
Thus, .lumen invented a scalable and highly available technological solution that reproduces the main features of a guiding dog, using advanced artificial and robotic intelligence technologies in a pair of glasses that any blind person can wear.
How do the glasses help blind people?
The headset contains sensory and feedback systems which understand the surrounding environment, and communicate movement instructions to its user. It has a sensory system comprising a set of 5 cameras that read, map and understand the world. They determine the user’s position in space, read the surrounding environment, and perceive contextual information.
Using a feedback system, they leverage audio and haptic methods (that stimulate the senses of touch and motion) to transmit information to its user. By analogy, a trained guiding dog provides this information by pulling the hand. The .lumen glasses do the same by using a complex technology based feedback system.
When will the glasses be available on the market?
The commercial version of the product is to be launched in the next period. The .lumen plan aims at a full integration of the system components at the pre-production level, by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Subsequently, production and distribution will start in the second half of 2021.
So far, .lumen has tested the glasses on approximately 200 blind people in Romania and abroad. It is estimated that more than 2,000 tests will be performed by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
What do the founders say?
“There are over 40 million blind people in the world and, with all the technological advances, when it comes to their mobility, the only solutions available remain the guiding dogs and the cane for the blind. The guiding dog is considered, unanimously, as a useful solution: he can guide a blind man safely, he can understand contextual information – for example, he is able to lead him to a free seat.
But the costs of training are substantial (up to $ 60,000), and the disadvantages of availability, scalability and maintenance limit access to such a solution. For this reason, there are 40 million blind and only 20,000 guiding dogs in the world. We considered fundamental the need to create such glasses, which can reproduce the characteristics of a guiding dog, for the 39,980,000 people who cannot benefit from a dog’s help”, says Cornel Amariei, CEO & Founder .lumen.
During last year, .lumen has attracted investments of over 1 million euros. The organization has thus tripled its team size compared to May, 2020, and estimates an increase of over 100 employees by the end of 2021.
The .lumen team consists of over 30 highly qualified specialists, established researchers, professors and doctors in the fields such as: engineering, computer science, electronics, studies of people with disabilities, industrial design, testing and others.