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Cornell Researchers Have New Vision For Oculus Rift Technology

NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Researchers at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute are using technology initially developed for gaming and turning it into a tool to aid the visually impaired.

The project, spearheaded by Jacobs Institute assistant professor Shiri Azenkot and doctoral student Yohung Jow, uses computer software similar to the technology used in the much-anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality platform.

"Right now what a lot of low vision people have to do is pick up each individual item and examine it, maybe even use a magnifying glass," Azenkot said.

For Azenkot, the endeavor is personal. She suffers from low vision, a disability that makes it difficult for people to see, even with the aid of glasses or contacts, CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported.

"There's nothing tragic about being blind or having low vision," Azenkot said. "It's just a question of equal access."

The program uses a series of customizable visual cues to help users identify objects places in front of them. If a user was looking for a particular item on a shelf, for example, they would simply tell the program what they were looking for, and the software would pinpoint the object using the method programmed by the user.

The technology is currently in prototype, cast out of a bulkier Oculus Rift headset. Azenkot hopes to develop the software so that it can translate into more fashionable options, like the glasses people wear every day.

"Technology moves so quickly, so I'm optimistic," Azenkot said.

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