DRA. BORYSIUK, MYRIAM. SPECTRALTEC GROUP. RETINA PROJECT.
ROLE IN YOUR TEAM
Please describe your role in the team relevant to the project you are proposing. 350 word limit
My role is the medical director of the SpectralTec project, responsibility that concentrates all the duties related to the medical affairs activities:
- Device commercialization through the disability care and support system: All the United Nations member states have signed the convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty that protects the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Parties to the Convention are required to promote, protect and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and ensure that full equality under the law. This includes respect for dignity, individual autonomy, equality of opportunity, accessibility, medical coverage and social protection, among other guiding principles.
Through disability certificates or disabled assistance programs, these people have to receive 100% rehabilitation and support coverage or any other assistance to cope with their disability. The patient gets this coverage certified by a specialized physician. Healthcare professionals play a strategic role in this project and, therefore, Spectraltec has to have a specialized area in this matter.
- Technological advances divulgation in the medical market : This means keeping physicians informed, establishing fluid technical communication about the contributions of this technology to the visually impaired . These tasks can be performed in special conferences and events, congresses , journals publications and keeping in touch with important specialty institutions.
- Ophthalmic clinical research coordination : This task will be performed with the other areas of the project. Through this area, the project would be gathering important information required to improve the product constantly and then keep healthcare professionals informed about new possibilities.
- Visual impairment matters divulgation and general science divulgation : This responsibility has a great social importance, especially in poor countries where visually impaired are left alone. The objective is the development of programs to educate and provide awareness about low vision, blindness and visual impairment in general, inform how to cope with the disability and how to prevent it.
How will your project improve the lives of a million people in the next 3-5 years? 350 word limit
According to WHO, 285 million people were visually impaired in 2010.
Visual impairment includes all the people that have a severe or complete vision loss. This condition has no pharmaceutical or surgical option that could restore that lost vision.
This problem is not an exclusive issue from poor or developing countries. The increase in life expectancy leads to many diseases that cause visual impairment directly.
Even so, 90 % of visually impaired people are in developing countries and 90 % of them are unemployed. It is alarming that 64% of poor disabled people were not in poverty prior to onset of the disability. Moreover, children with disabilities have lower levels of education and literacy. Disability is both caused by poverty and causes poverty.
Personal independence and social opportunities are so deteriorated in disabled ones, that their quality of life is lower and their education, work and social opportunities are diminished. The products commercially available are quite basic and rudimentary, such as the cane or some optical aids. In some unusual cases few people use electronic systems with limited benefits. The visually impaired people are waiting for better and more effective tools to have an active and independent life.
It is worth pointing out that technological advancement and developments have gone together with any other disability or general health needs, but not with the visual impairment aids.
SpectralTec project is developing a new concept of aids for the visually impaired. Our product is an integrated optoelectronic device that can assist the disabled person in a variety of tasks. With the use of new information technologies and electronics, we apply a minicomputer that processes video data from a camera and then suits that image according to the visual condition of each person. The product could adapt the image according to the patient visual filed or process the image through sensory substitution systems. With this portable and noninvasive product in the coming years a child, adult or elderly disabled will be able to perform multiple activities, having their independent life back. SpectralTec project aims to improve visually impaired people quality of life.
Describe the technology behind the project. 350 word limit
Our product is an optoelectronic device whose main components are: a processing module (microcomputer or reprogrammable embedded system), an acquisition module ( and display (video glasses, adapted optical items and video camera) and a sensory substitution module (an electro - stimulator). The product incorporates reprogrammable electronic devices, a minidisplay, a videocamera, bioengineering techniques implemented in software, optometric techniques and high-precision spectral filters. The device can be used for rehabilitation (directed by a health professional) and to enable a variety of tasks (facilitate the access to work, education, recreation, etc.) .The device captures and processes images in real time and adapts the image in the video glasses display according to the patientīs needs. The device also can adapt the video data taken with the camera to a electro-tactile sensory stimulation patern, special function for blind people . This application is also useful for disabled people with useful residual vision to improve its guidance. The adaptation of visual information depends on the pathological condition of each person, so different algorithms would be used for each patient. The device is scalable. That means that different hardware interfaces and software applications so then new functions could be incorporated The design includes functional adaptation so then the device can be reconfigured according to the progression of the disability or visual disease. In this way, they patient has a single aid for multiple situations and stages of the disease. The configuration of the item can be done remotely just with specific information about the visual defect through Ophthalmic examinations such us automated perimetry, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), etc. Itīs portable device with long autonomy so then the patient can use it during all the day at work or class . To maximize its potential, the device applies automatic character recognition ( OCR ) and automatic reading (TTS ) funcions, reading files with different formats (Pdf, Txt , doc, etc.), reproducing different music and video formats and web browsing. After the commercialization, itīs planed to make independent programmers develop new applications or make improvements on the system. The product is not just a tool or aid for the disabled people but an complete interactive multimedia system.