Scientists are developing smart and sleek bionic spectacles. The spectacles, they say could soon be on sale and help hundreds of thousands of blind people in the world experience the gift of sight.

The “smart spectacles”, being developed by a scientific team at the Oxford University in the United Kingdom, uses minuscule cameras and a pocket computer to alert wearers to objects and people ahead.

Cheap, lightweight

The cheap and lightweight glasses, which could be on sale by 2014 following successful trials, would make it easier for the blind to navigate roads in busy neighborhoods and even read bus numbers, the researchers said.

Elderly people with age-related macular degeneration are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries, the Daily Mail reported.

Past technological endeavours to create such a device have resulted in large dark spectacles accompanied by clunky cameras and bulky computers.

But advances in technology mean it should be possible to create bionic spectacles that look almost indistinguishable from standard glasses.

Importantly, a price tag of less than a thousand pounds should make them affordable, the researchers told the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition.

“It is satisfying to think that we will be able to produce this at a cost that is going make it available to the people who will benefit the most,” according to Dr Stephen Hicks, who has completed the basic research and is now working on prototype spectacles.

He envisages transparent glasses with lenses studded with small light-emitting diodes and cameras the size of a pinhead at the outside top corners of the frame.

The cameras will photograph the information the eyes should see and send the images through a cable to a mobile phone-sized computer which could be placed in the wearer's pocket.

Pattern of dots

The computer will process the information and simplify it into a pattern of dots.

The Light Emitting Diodes in the lenses then light up in that pattern, giving the wearer vital information about what lies ahead.

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