MIAMI - A pair of eyeglasses developed by Florida International University students could help the blind read or walk without a cane.
Mike Arbitmans began using a prototype of the Eyetalk glasses after he lost his sight to an infection six years ago.
"It's as if someone took away my hands and legs. I couldn't do anything and I had to re-learn how to do everything," he said.
Graduate students studying social entrepreneurship developed the glasses, which have a camera in the lens and a computer chip that interprets and translates the image into sound.
"It gives me my freedom back," said Arbitmans. "Having these glasses, it will allow me to go to an ATM by myself. I can walk into a store and pick up clothes and read the tag to see how much things are."
The students' design and business plan was recently recognized at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition at the University of Washington.
"It is about creating a sustainable business model that has profit that generates revenues that also creates a social impact," said Seema Pissaris, a professor at FIU's College of Business.
A drone technology project inspired Vuirniel Sanchez and Jesus Amundarin to develop the glasses.
"I've never been challenged to come up with something new that does not exist and does social good at the same time," said Sanchez.
"Now, you feel like you have a purpose, and you can apply everything you learned in school so it really changes you," added Amundarin.
Arbitmans said he hopes the glasses allow him see everything he once saw.
"It made me realize that these glasses today have done more for me than any other technology thus far," he said.
Sanchez and Amundarin are working to secure money to develop the first beta version of the glasses.
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