Samsung Electronics launches VR app for visually impaired

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Samsung Electronics has announced the launch of ‘Relúmĭno’ — a visual aid application for people with low vision.

The app works in conjunction with the Gear VR headset to enhance the vision of visually impaired people. Users with newer models of Galaxy smartphones — including the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S8 and S8+ — can download ‘Relúmĭno’ for free from the Oculus Store with support for both English and Korean. ‘Relúmĭno’ does not provide support for the totally blind.

Relúmĭno will be a life-changer for 240 million visually impaired people around the world and we promise firm and continuing support.

Said Jaiil Lee, Vice President and Head of the Creativity & Innovation Center at Samsung Electronics.

The app processes images from videos projected through the rear camera of a smartphone and makes them more ‘friendly’ for visually impaired people. Key features include magnifying and minimising images; highlighting the image outline; adjusting colour contrast and brightness; reversing colour; and screen colour filtering. These features enable visually challenged people to see images clearer when they are reading a book or viewing an object.

For those suffering from a blind spot or ‘tunnel vision’ — the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision — ‘Relúmĭno’ helps by remapping unseen images, which it places in visible parts of the eye. Unlike other visual aids with similar quality that often cost thousands of dollars, Samsung says that ‘Relúmĭno’ users can enjoy equivalent features at a much more affordable price.

Earlier in the year Relúmĭno attracted a great deal of attention at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry. C-Lab, Samsung’s in-house incubator program, was commended for showcasing a technology developed to help physically challenged people rather than pursuing profits with conventional VR devices.

Selected as a C-Lab project in May 2016, Relúmĭno was first designed to help visually impaired people enjoy daily activities such as watching TV and reading books. The project members named the application ‘Relúmĭno’ — meaning ‘Light up again’ in Latin — as they wanted to help visually impaired people feel the joy of daily activities that most people usually take for granted.

While most C-Lab projects are completed within a year, Relúmĭno will continue to carry out follow-up tasks. It plans to develop glasses-like products so that visually impaired people can use the visual aids in their daily life without them being conspicuous. The team will also continue to enhance the app based on user feedback.

Launched in December 2012, C-Lab is a startup business program that nurtures a creative corporate culture and innovative ideas among Samsung employees. The program supports projects that contribute to society like ‘Relúmĭno’ in addition to IT projects related to the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables and virtual reality.

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