Helen Keller once said that what a blind person needs is not a teacher but another self. Researchers are developing a system that aims to provide something close — a computerized “seeing” assistant that will help blind people read books, access Web pages, recognize faces and navigate unfamiliar rooms.

The portable version of the system, called Tyflos — Greek for blind — consists of a tiny camera mounted on a pair of glasses, a laptop carried in a backpack, a headset and a microphone. Designed by researchers at Wright State University, Tyflos converts the images recorded by the camera into verbal messages conveyed to the user.

“Computer algorithms process the images and extract information from them to give the user information about what they are looking at,” said Nikolaos Bourbakis, professor at Wright State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science in Dayton, Ohio.

Users can program Tyflos to feed them information continuously or only when prompted by a question, such as “What is directly in front of me?” or “Who just walked into the room?”

More here.