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Enhancing Video for the Visually Impaired

Researchers are using algorithms that can better the picture quality for people with macular degeneration.
December 11, 2008

Eli Peli, a researcher at the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, is developing software that can enhance the quality of a TV image for people with visual impairments such as macular degeneration–a disease that makes images on the screen seem blurred and distorted.

Peli’s algorithms increase the contrast of a picture over spatial frequencies that are easier for a visually impaired person to see. In his lab a remote control can be used to adjust the contrast on a 32 inch television screen connected to a PC, creating a specially-enhanced picture.

“It’s simple,” Peli says, showing me CNN, the movie Shrek and a basketball game all in split-screen mode. In each clip he points out the difference in resolution, even for a person with normal eyesight. In the image on the right, details like grass, flowers and a person’s facial features are much clearer than in the one on the left. Peli, who is also a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, expects a grant from Analog Devices in the new year. This company has been testing his software and Peli says it is eager to build it into its hardware. He explains his work and demonstrates the system in the video below.

Video by Brittany Sauser

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