Eyedaptic: Simulated Natural Vision Technology & One User's Low Vision Journey (sponsored breakout)
DESCRIPTIONEyedaptic is an AR (Augmented Reality) visual aid company, which helps those with retina-related vision loss, such as AMD, simulate natural vision. Their novel software is adaptive to the user’s vision, as well as their environment and habits and optimizes the remaining vision. A user’s view of low vision challenges and issues that he has overcome along with the different technologies he has tried offers a perspective on this, and other low vision technologies.
- Jay Cormier, Eyedaptic Founder & CEO, Eyedaptic
- Samuel Newman, Clinical Specialist & Low Vision Technology User
LISA MILGRAM: My name is Lisa Milgram, and on behalf of Site Tech Global, I’m so excited to have you join us. In today’s 30 minutes session, which is hosted by Eyedaptic, you’re going to hear from Jay Cormier, who is Eyedaptic’s founder and CEO, and Samuel Newman, who’s a clinical specialist and low vision technology user.
Before we begin, I want to share a couple of housekeeping items. The session is being recorded and will be available posted then. We ask you as attendees please remain on mute. [INAUDIBLE]. And if you have a question, we ask you to use the Q&A box when the time comes, which, I think, Jay will alert you to.
When it’s time for questions, we ask that you use the raise my hand feature found in the participants panel. For those of you who are using a screen reader, the keyboard shortcuts for that are optional y on Mac and Alt y on PC. We’ll call on you, and at that point, you can be unmuted and ask your questions.
And that’s all I have to say. I want to turn it over to Jay and Samuel. Thank you.
JAY CORMIER: Well, thank you, Lisa. Can you all see my screen now?
LISA MILGRAM: Looks good.
JAY CORMIER: OK, thank you. Well, again, I’m Jay Cormier, founder and CEO of Eyedaptic. I’m also here with Sam Newman, who I’m going to introduce a little later on, who is a low vision technology user. And I thought it would be much more valuable than just having me speak about what we’re trying to do to actually show how it helps people in their everyday lives.
So we are enhancing vision with augmented reality and machine learning. And the way we do that, first of all, if I can make sure my slide advance is here– here we go. –is we’ve been focusing on central vision loss, primarily age related macular degeneration. And that was our original target. It’s certainly not the only target for low vision aids, but this is the leading cause of vision loss for people 60 and older. And this manifests itself as a deterioration of the macula, which is where your central vision is.
Of course, this does leave peripheral vision, and that leaves us something to work with. But this is a huge problem, the number one cause of vision loss for people 60 and older. But again, we’ve worked with people all different ages, but have most experience with the AMD at this point.
So just real quick, the team. I wanted to emphasize that I’m very happy with the team we have. Probably the luckiest day in our founding is when we found our– both medical officer Dr. Mitul Mehta and Dr. Brian Kim both became co-founders. They’re retina specialists, but also, have a background in technology. One being a programmer from MIT and another being a mechanical engineer from Columbia before going into medicine.
And from there, we brought on a very strong board, but also, some of the leading low vision medical professionals in the world, like Dr. Cooperman, who’s head of the UCI’s Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, Dr. Becky Kammer, who was a low vision specialist, Dr. Paul Karpecki, a leader in optometry, Dr. Lou Lipschultz, who was also a low vision optometrist. So a very strong bench of doctors, which really has made this all possible.
So how do we simulate natural vision? Well, I’m not going to get too deep into the technology, but fundamentally, we have are a pair of AR glasses. So we leverage open market hardware, which is augmented reality glasses that have a front mounted camera that captures the image that is displayed in the real world.
Then with our proprietary software, we integrate that image, and enhance that image, and provide a bunch of different enhancements from machine learning and image processing to re-display that in front of the person’s eyes on the microdisplays. So what does this actually do is we are taking advantage of the remaining vision left. We are enhancing the image to help that person see the scene better.
Now, what makes it natural also is not only is this a wearable and completely useful in many different situations and doesn’t inhibit mobility. But also, the user interfaces are autonomous, so there’s actually modes, where you don’t have to control anything. And the glasses are essentially thinking for you or anticipating what you’re going to do. And this is very valuable to make it a more natural viewing experience.
So another point on how our solution works, we use something called hybrid see-through. Certainly what we’ve seen out there in low vision aids, they fall into a couple of different categories for wearables. Some are virtual reality.
This is a video see-through technology, which you’re only seeing what comes in through the camera. But therefore, you are isolated from reality, and you don’t have your peripheral vision. So that isolates you from the real world or straight augmented reality, which is optical see-through, which really creates a double image, which is an overlay on the real world and very hard for a low vision person to rationalize that double image.
So Eyedaptic does a hybrid of those two, where we’re still fully connected with the peripheral vision to the real world. But that reality is integrated, and the image is blended with software. And we’ll have Sam tell you how that works a little more later.
I did want to share our clinical study data, although, this is an FDA class one exempt device. It does not require FDA approval, but we did do a clinical study to make sure we had firm data and could see the benefits of the technology. So this was a trial with mostly dry AMD patients in the 79 to 90-year-old range, because this does tend to be an older person’s disease with vision in the range of 20-70 to 22-50.
So although we’ve helped people all the way up to 2,400, we really targeted that intermediate stage AMD for this trial. We had a variety of tasks, and Dr. Kammer designed this trial. But this was conducted with an independent optometrist who had no background in low vision.
So the way it was designed was we were focused on tasks of daily living, tasks that included things, like reading a bill that was close in, mid-distance tasks, like spotting canned goods and reading them, and far away tasks, like spotting a sign and reading the sign. And what we saw was, I think, truly stunning. Because not only did we see a reduction in time to do these tasks, like we expected.
But we saw a huge increase in the task ability, meaning there was a very limited number of people that could do these tasks with their regular glasses, and that increased five-fold when they used the Eyedaptic glasses. We also measured visual acuity as you would expect, and we saw a doubling of visual acuity on average in the study set. So here, I’m going to stop talking, and I’m going to start to introduce Sam Newman.
First of all, I really want to thank Sam for being here, especially since he was in the hospital this weekend and rally to come back and be able to join us for this. Sam has a broad background in medical devices, and certainly, the low vision part of his journey, he’s going to share as well. But I’m going to stop talking and kind of let Sam tell you a little bit about himself and where he comes from. Sam, take it away.
SAM NEWMAN: Hi, everyone, and good morning from Long Beach, California. My background is a little diverse. As Jay said, I come from kind of a broad spectrum career field.
I just retired back in January, but my last two positions, I was a reservist with the United States Public Health Service as a disaster response specialist. I was with them for a little bit over 30 years, and I would have been one of the pandemic responders. My background has gone to any and every natural disaster, manmade or natural, over the last 30 years.
From there, I specialized in the last 20 years medical optics, believe it or not. I was born with retinoschisis, which is a deterioration of the layers of the retina themselves, making my acuity in my right eye about 23-50. My left eye, worse than 2,200, maybe 22-50.
So I was steady state up, until about two years ago, and then my vision started deteriorating rapidly. So I had made the choice then that I had to leave doing hands-on clinical work. My background’s truly in anesthesia itself and coming out with visual tools or devices used for placing the endotracheal tube down into the patient’s trachea, which is a really small camera.
So I know cameras, and I understand visual aids pretty well. So it’s pretty interesting that about two to three years ago when I started having problems, I went to my local optician. And I said, hey, is there a pair of glasses I can go ahead and just buy that have a camera built into them with a screen and allow me to see? And he said, no, that doesn’t exist, and I’m thinking too far in the future. And I’m thinking Star Trek.
Well, I myself, I don’t take that as stop. To me, that means go and find out as much information as possible. So I was lucky enough to be able to meet Dr. Mehta, who’s my primary ophthalmologist and retinal specialist, and Jay.
I do not work for Eyedaptic. I’m just a friend. They’ve been very good at sharing some of the technology and letting me know that the technologies are out there. So a little bit about what I believe that’s important in this discussion, and what makes this product work, and what maybe everyone should take into consideration if they’re looking at a device in the future.
Jay brought up the augmented reality. That doesn’t mean much to anyone, unless you’re really in technology itself. Really, what it means to myself, I still have vision, and you still have to have some vision to use this product. But what it means is that I can go ahead, and I can wear the product. And I don’t know if the camera will show it, but this is what the product looks like in my–
JAY CORMIER: Just hold it closer to your eyes. There you go.
SAM NEWMAN: OK, so this is the product itself. It does not look– honestly, it’s a fashion statement where when I wear them. They’re really nice, and they don’t look like something space age. They look like sunglasses, and I can wear them throughout the day.
I can walk with them. Because a lot of the products out there today, you cannot continue to transit or walk around with them on your face. Because you’ll fall over things or actually get motion sick. Because of the ability to have peripheral vision with it, I can go ahead and wear them around the house or even as I walked across the street.
JAY CORMIER: Sam, quick question. What were you having the most trouble with, while you were working and traveling?
SAM NEWMAN: OK.
JAY CORMIER: What were the– set the stage for the technology. What were the tasks that were the big challenges for you?
SAM NEWMAN: So that the big tasks– and that’s where I was going right now. I was traveling probably about 90% out of the month throughout the world. And as we all know, airports, yes, they’re getting better, and they’re getting nicer. But I noticed that all the signage and such started getting placed further away to me to where I couldn’t read the gate numbers or where the different things were.
So what was nice is I could wear this product now, and I’ve tried it. I went up to the South Bay, and I wore them. And I can see now the gate numbers. I can see where the restrooms are.
I can see– oh, and moreover, I can see where the seat numbers are on the airplane, while I’m getting on the airplane. I don’t have to ask someone anymore, where is seat 4F or any of those type of questions? I literally can wear them, get on the airplane, and I can also– with that, I can read menus now. I can read the menus off of walls at fast food, and one of the big things that we as VI people run into is checking out at point of sales being at the cash register.
I’m sure most of you have had that problem, where especially with COVID, where the terminal’s a little further away than where you can read it. That was always my problem, and it gave me a little bit of an angst. So I can now have these on, and I can see now what the prompts are.
I’m not over tipping the waitress anymore, or I’m not getting $50 out when I really didn’t want to get it out. I can read the terminals now, the receipts. I can read my receipts. I can watch TV.
I was in the hospital this last week, and I was able to watch TV from the bed, and also, fill out forms as they bring the stack of forms. With this device, I can go ahead, and I can fill out the forms and not have to try to use either a cell phone with an app or a magnifying glass. I can literally wear these, like glasses. So it’s been very, very helpful.
Going across streets, I can see stop signs and stop lights. And a little bit, you know, I knew that this technology should exist, and it even came down to at one point, where I even built my own CCTV. I just used off the shelf stuff, and this is the device that I used. And it worked. And it’s about, now, I believe partnering with people, like the manufacturers, and letting also your ophthalmologist and optic specialists know that there’s technology out there, and that we’re no longer being forced into be semi-victimized, that we can go ahead and have tools that will help us in the future.
And I truly believe– I know it for a fact. Because I’m privy to a lot of the technology out there with other markets that as the cameras, and the technology, and the processors get faster and smaller, it’s endless what the options are going to be in the next five to 10 years. So that’s where I’m at right now with my walk with low vision, and honestly, I’m thrilled that there’s organizations that are now open and allowing us to be part of developing new products. So it’s been a great journey.
JAY CORMIER: Oh, Sam, what’s some of the technologies in the past that you’ve found to be more helpful, less helpful? Because, obviously, this has been a journey for you. I think that would be great to let everyone know.
SAM NEWMAN: Well, it was nice when the smartphones came out, right? They had built in magnifiers, the ability to do text to speech. Those things were all nice. But many of you will be able to relate that when the doctor or the bank hands you a stack of papers to fill out, it’s really kind of hard to manipulate a cell phone and write at the same time.
So that was a challenge. And I think this type of product, because they’re intuitive, they’re glasses, they actually have a built in intelligence to where you’re not having to do a whole lot of manipulation. That’s another thing.
These products have to be easy for– sorry about that. –have to be easy for the user and intuitive. So those are the challenges I was having. The other thing is– and really important everyone. I’m the type of person. I want to look at a price, or a description, or a title on a shelf and know it right away. I do not want to read the whole paragraph.
I don’t want the actual text to speech to read me a paragraph and computerize. Because really, I don’t find it pleasant listening to it. I just want to see the price, the actual what I’m buying, and let’s say, it’s vitamins. I want to know the dosage and things like that.
But I want to know it, and I don’t want to have to read the paragraph or the sentences above or below. So that’s always been a challenge with some of the products out there. Another thing that is nice about this is because you do have to have some vision. I can look at a bus as it’s coming, and I can see what the bus route is. That’s helpful.
Street signs, I can read the street signs. Like Jay said, most people were able to see almost two times what their acuity was without, and that allows you to be able to do things like that. And let’s talk about, also, stress relief.
When you’re able to do these things, you’re less stressed. You’re able to enjoy the surroundings around you. I go to the park. I go to the Nature Center. I can see the birds, and I feel like I’m more with the surroundings versus just the viewer of the surroundings. So I think that’s a key thing. It’s returning us back into being part of everyday life.
JAY CORMIER: So when we think about– you talked a little bit about why wearables are helpful. Because it’s hands free, and why spotting’s important. Maybe just to transition to kind of our last slide, and then people maybe can start putting in their Q&A. I do see a couple of questions already, but we are getting close to Q&A. So if you have more, please queue them up. But I guess what I’d like to ask you, Sam, is where do you think vision technology is headed? This conference is all about vision technology.
SAM NEWMAN: Right.
JAY CORMIER: Certainly, that’s what Eyedaptic’s about. But I think it’s very important to hear a user’s view on where you think it’s going to go, and what you think is most important.
SAM NEWMAN: I know it from my background in other medical optics. I do know that as time goes on– matter of fact, the cameras are getting smaller. I had a capsule dropped into my intestine this last couple of days, and it was so small. I mean, it’s a little bit larger than a grain of grain long rice, but we’re looking at– you know, the cameras are getting smaller.
The processor speed and such, so you won’t have the lag between what’s seen and what’s transmitted to the actual CPU or the brains of the apparatus. The apparatuses are going to start looking a lot more aesthetically pleasing. Not as much of–
JAY CORMIER: How big a deal is that, Sam?
SAM NEWMAN: I think that’s big. I mean, I’m 53 years old. You know, I’m not really into the looks or anything. But I have to say that when you’re at certain places, having kids look at you all kind of funny, thinking you’re from another planet or something, you get a little bit self-conscious. But I believe that this product, honestly, from far away, they just look like sunglasses, and that’s really, really helpful.
And as things progress, we’re going to end up with smaller units, less heat, less weight on your nose and your ears, a little bit more comfortable. I think that’s where things are going to go, and we know that we look at devices today versus 20 years ago, the difference. Just think of these products 20 years from now. I definitely believe that because of market steering, we’ll steer the industry to what’s going to be the standard and what’s going to be acceptable.
JAY CORMIER: Awesome.
SAM NEWMAN: It’s nice.
JAY CORMIER: OK, well, thank you. I think we’ve got about eight minutes left.
SAM NEWMAN: Great.
JAY CORMIER: I do see Q&A starting to pop up, so what you’re going to do is just stop the screen share. First of all, thank you, Sam, for your perspective, and thanks, everyone, for attending. And what I’ll do is I’ll moderate the questions as they come in and try to send them the correct direction. So let’s see.
The first question, thank you. It says, wonderful product. What were some of the big challenges when you developed that technology? Well, that is a fantastic question. I would say, first of all, because we made a strategic decision to focus on the software, but the hardware is a big part of this is making sure you had hardware that was high enough quality, right?
That could not only be comfortable, like Sam said, but also, provide a high enough quality image. And that was deceptively difficult to get at, because there’s a combination of what the image is made up of, right? It’s made up of how good is the camera.
That’s a very key point, as Sam made. Also, how good is that processor? Because how you process those images make a big difference, and then, finally, how do you display those images?
Because those displays are definitely evolving, so those certainly have been some of the bigger challenges that we have overcome. And let’s see. Next question, I’m interested in the homemade CCTV, particularly the control panel. So let’s see. Maybe Sam, this is your CCTV. You want to take that one?
SAM NEWMAN: OK. I’m not sure if there’s technology people, people that make CCTV’s. What I was able to do, this is an IPV. You can get it off of Amazon. What’s nice about it is it comes with text to speech technology, and you can also use it for video conferencing.
So I found an application, and then I made some phone calls. I found people that had some spare parts, so I lay a book on top of an existing platform that allows the book to move right to left. And then the unit itself, it has a ability to capture, and also, do text to speech. Or I can change it and make it a video conferencing system.
And it’s Bluetooth wireless. It works with any platform being your watch, I mean, not your watch. Your television, your monitor, computer, or your smart phone. And honestly, you can do this for under $500, guys. Feel free. My email, I think, is at the end of this. But anyone who wants to reach out, I’m all about helping everyone else, paying it forward.
So if you need help or have questions about doing this type of thing, feel free to reach out, and I can tell you how to do it. And there’s some YouTube stuff, too, but I think the way that I did it, it’s pretty dang good. And it’s able to knock several birds off with one stone.
JAY CORMIER: OK, awesome. Let’s see. The next one, there’s a few questions here. So I’m going to try to pick up the pace a little, so we can fit them all in. It’s how do I obtain wearables.
So certainly, a lot of the companies that make wearables do have websites. But the other place to go try them out are things, like the Braille Institute or the Light House Guild, which has a variety of technologies for low vision that you can try out. So you can see how they work for you before you go ahead and buy them.
Next question, is it comparable to eSight 4? Well, I’m going to try to stay out of the competitive realm, but the answer is, yes, it’s wearable. Eyedaptic does have a wider field of vision, which is very important and lighter. And I guess I will leave it at that.
SAM NEWMAN: Yeah, I’d like to say something really quick.
JAY CORMIER: Yes, go ahead, Sam. Please.
SAM NEWMAN: Everyone, look, I know this from the medical community. We don’t just use one product out there. It’s so, so important for you to try everything out there.
What’s good for me might not be good for the other. So when it comes to other products and such, and I’m like Jay. I don’t talk about the other products, because they all do something a little bit different. But please, look at the warranties, return programs, and things like that. But try them out under every circumstance that you would be using them. That’s key.
JAY CORMIER: Great, great point. Thank you, Sam. Let’s see. Next question, what are the image enhancement capabilities? In a nutshell, there’s things, like edge enhancement, magnification, contrast enhancement. So there are a variety of image enhancement capabilities–
SAM NEWMAN: Filtering.
JAY CORMIER: –along with user interfaces that make that easier for you to use to make it more natural. Next question, battery life, price point, weight. Certainly, this is on our website. Battery life, we do supply an external battery, so it goes all day. We priced it just under $3,000, and weight is a couple hundred grams.
Can it be used with astigmatism? The short answer to that is, yes, we do have prescription lens inserts that you can add to it. Someone’s asking about nystagmus. Can it benefit that?
It can. We don’t have a lot of experience with that, so I think the best thing is to try it out and see if it helps you, OK? Some people are asking about funding. Who’s eligible for the device?
This is a direct to consumer payable. There are some limited insurance plans that help out. Certainly, if you’re a veteran, the VA does pay for these sort of things. But it’s very much like a hearing aid, where it is a direct to consumer payable and priced like the hearing aids.
SAM NEWMAN: Jay?
JAY CORMIER: The next one, I have RP, not AMD. Let’s see. They had some thoughts. Latency is important, light sensitivity.
SAM NEWMAN: Yep.
JAY CORMIER: Resolution. So the question is, do you think these will be coming? And the answer is, yes, absolutely. We didn’t focus on that in the first product, but our follow on products, we certainly do have an increased focus on that.
Where are the controls located? I see some controls on the temple. On this version, it is correct. They are sitting up on the right hand side, as Sam’s showing you there, and then there’s some buttons and a swipe pad to control things.
SAM NEWMAN: Hey, Jay. Really quick, I think it’s important back to the question of where you can get this. Please don’t just go to your every day off the street optician. You need to really go to an optical specialist, because they will know more about this type of technology. If you go to your Costco optometrist or something, they’re not going to know anything about this.
JAY CORMIER: Great point. Great, great point. Let’s see. Next question was thank you. How about software updates? Can we install updates?
The answer is, yes, this is updatable, just like a cell phone. And our future products will actually make that even easier. Email address. Sam, I think it was Sam 911.
SAM NEWMAN: It’s Sam N, firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to reach out to me.
JAY CORMIER: Yep, someone asked, can they send us a LinkedIn? By all means, please do. Another one, my acuity is 20 over 750. When are you going to make something that can handle that? Well, we certainly have helped people up to 2,400, but it certainly does get tougher after that. And I think Lisa’s going to cut us off.
LISA MILGRAM: Yes, we’ve come to the end. However, I’ve downloaded all the questions, and they have names attached to them. So I’ll make sure that you have those, and we’ll be able to get in touch with those that you aren’t able to speak with.
SAM NEWMAN: Thank you, Lisa. Thank you, and nice meeting you.
LISA MILGRAM: Thank you for everybody coming. We want to encourage you to return to the main stage, which is at sighttechglobal.com/events, and we hope to see you in the next set of breakouts. Thanks, again, Eyedaptic.
SAM NEWMAN: Thank you.
JAY CORMIER: Thank you all very much. Have a great day.