How EnChroma’s smart sunglasses can help solve color blindness
Wearable technology is proving to be hugely beneficial to people with a variety of disabilities and health conditions. In Berkeley, a group of engineers is developing smart sunglasses that can help color-blind people identify and better discriminate between colors.
The startup, called EnChroma, initially received funding for its research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
It’s a huge potential market. According to the website We Are Colorblind, around 8 percent of the male population of the planet is color blind.
For some color-blind people, driving is challenging, as it can be difficult to discern between a red and green traffic light. Former New York Times writer David Pogue is color blind and gave the glasses a try. Pogue doesn’t have any trouble driving, but doesn’t see deep greens and reds.
“Yards full of leafy trees and plants suddenly had different shades of green. Everywhere I looked, desaturated or barely discernible red things were popping,” wrote Pogue. “There was a weird sensation of seeing red and green areas in the periphery of my vision.”
According to a company spokesperson, color-blind wearers of Enchroma’s smart “Cx Explorer” glasses experience up to a 30 percent improvement in ability to identify colors and a 70 percent improvement in color discrimination.
The sunglasses are designed to be worn outdoors in bright light, not artificial light. The company wouldn’t advise wearing them at work, to read, or watch videos on a computer screen.
In an email interview, cofounders Don McPherson and Tony Dykes detailed how EnChroma’s technology rivals other products. According to the founders, most products on the market will use strongly tinted red and magenta lenses.