Google Glass, smartphone app make small device screens an easier read

A magnification app and Google Glass can provide visually impaired smartphone users with greater ease and capability in reading mobile device screen content.

The display magnification approach, explained in a research study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, is focused on addressing limitations of mobile device screen zoom features, the inherent slow navigation time involved and the loss of context. Users move their heads to view portions of the magnified screen and a study of 12 participants reveals the approach reduced navigation time by about 28 percent.

The app was designed by researchers at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School. An estimated 1.5 million Americans age 45 and older suffer from low vision for a variety of reasons, according to an announcement on the research

"When people with low visual acuity zoom in on their smartphones, they see only a small portion of the screen, and it's difficult for them to navigate around--they don't know whether the current position is in the center of the screen or in the corner of the screen," senior author Gang Luo, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, said in the announcement.

The Google Glass app delivers on projected mHealth expectations cited in late 2013 by IDC Health Insights, which noted hurdles such as interoperability were thwarting such innovation.

In the future, the researchers hope to include more gestures on the Google Glass to interact with smartphones, and to study the effectiveness of head-motion based navigation compared to other commonly used smartphone accessibility features, such as voice-based navigation.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- read the report