X-Ray Specs Are Here; 1960s Science Fiction to 21st-Century Fact

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 26, 2017 | Go to article overview

X-Ray Specs Are Here; 1960s Science Fiction to 21st-Century Fact


Byline: Dawn Thompson

IT SOUNDS like the stuff of science fiction - high-tech glasses which allow doctors to peer inside the human body.

But the Scottish NHS and a technology company are working together to make this futuristic fantasy a reality - by developing real 'X-ray specs'.

Using infrared light and tiny specialised cameras, the 'smart glasses' allow the wearer to 'see' veins under the skin.

Incorporating the latest communications technology, the glasses also transmit information, allowing others to see remotely what the user is looking at.

NHS staff are already evaluating how the glasses could improve patient care, and medics believe they could be especially beneficial in the treatment of stroke victims.

Electronics engineer Chris Bryson, of Scottish developer Sublime, said: 'It's as if the glasses give you superpowers because you can see outside of the visible spectrum. It's like X-ray glasses.

'We're not using X-rays - but we're effectively able to see outside of your normal vision.' The early-stage prototype glasses use infrared light to highlight veins under the skin.

A tiny infrared camera captures the images which are then displayed on the lenses of the spectacles. The images are superimposed on the 'real life' view seen by the user, with 3D technology aligning the two. This 'sensor fusion' gives the X-ray effect.

They can also create pictures from an ultrasound wand, something that can be used to assess internal bleeding, for example, or to monitor an unborn child.

Mr Bryson, whose is co-developing the glasses with the NHS and Taiwanese firm Jorjin Technologies, said: 'I've been immersed in this for a long time, but I think people who experience augmented reality for the first time definitely get a "wow" feeling. It is actually driven by mobile phone technology, effectively leveraging the miniaturisation of computing, which is connected wirelessly over 3G or 4G. …

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