MIT's got a new machine in the works that will offer some discrete seeing abilities to the 1.3 million legally blind in the US without the need for invasive retinal implants. Though it's not portable and doesn't (yet) support video feeds, the 12 x 6 x 6-inch "seeing machine" developed by Elizabeth Goldring, a senior fellow at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, enables users to control virtual 3D environments, view images, or read documents by way of an LED eyepiece that projects images directly onto the retinas of those with limited vision. (An example of what Goldring apparently see is blown up onscreen above.) We assume the consumer application of such a device is only eventual, but for now it remains with at MIT for development, so, um, keep an eye out.

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MIT's $4,000 "seeing machine" for the legally blind