W.A.R. what is it good for? Quite a lot actually, one day

W.A.R. stands for Wearable Assistive Reality – a device that has eyes to see (a camera), a mind to think with (apps running locally and online services) and a mouth to speak (binaural audio output). Unlike an Augmented Reality device, an Assistive Reality device designed for people with no useful vision doesn’t need a screen. Nor does it need some yet to be developed display technology such as ‘smart lenses’ or neural interfaces. It would, of course,, suffer from issues around battery life, processing power, connectivity and size.

If you are thinking that the ideal Wearable Assistive Device for a blind person is a pair of glasses, your right or at least you are almost right:

A pair of glasses is a great way to mount a camera that points where the person is looking and a speaker for each ear. This is true for Augmented Reality devices to – with the addition of technology to overlay digital information on the real world. They provide a familiar, socially acceptable way to hold the camera in line with the wearer’s gaze. Plus, they have space for speakers that keep awareness of surroundings, which is vital for a visually impaired person. a Wearable Assistive Technology device will include:

  1. A head-mounted camera acting as the ‘eyes’ of the system.
  2. A smart phone running a range of local services, with access to online services for more complex task – the mind.
  3. Stereo speakers to provide spoken information and binaural audio feedback.

It’s important that the camera has the ability to capture images and video in diverse lighting conditions for the AI to analyse effectively. Local Services are key for fast, essential tasks: object recognition, text reading, navigation basics. Online Services: Cloud-based AI would enable complex scene description, facial recognition, or accessing detailed information. speech output should be clear and easy to understand in various sound environments. Binaural Audio is crucial - 3D audio cues add another layer of environmental perception for the wearer, improving their understanding of their surroundings.

Beyond Augmented Reality: W.A.R. shifts away from the visual augmentation model of AR and instead focuses on providing a comprehensive assistive experience tailored to those with visual impairments. This focus opens up exciting possibilities.

The Sensory Triad: The eyes (camera), mind (apps/AI models), and mouth (audio output system) creates a helpful framework for understanding how a W.A.R devices could function as a surrogate for vision. Additional Considerations

Design: Discreetness and comfort are paramount. The design should avoid bulkiness and blend seamlessly into everyday life. User Interface: An intuitive, minimally invasive way for the user to interact is critical. Voice commands and perhaps subtle haptic feedback could be solutions. Ethics: Careful thought is needed around privacy (for both the user and those recorded by the device), as well as responsible AI development to avoid biases or misinterpretations.

The Future Potential

The concept of W.A.R. is incredibly promising. As battery technology, processing power, and AI capabilities improve, this kind of device could become a truly transformative tool for the visually impaired community. It has the potential to provide Increased Independence: Improved navigation, object recognition, and access to information. Enhanced Social Interaction: Facial recognition and real-time scene descriptions for social situations. Greater Integration: Empowering users to take part more fully in work, education, and overall experience of the world.


There are currently four or five candidate technologies on my radar: from low-cost Ray-Ban smart glasses from Meta, to the MyEye from Orrcam costing many thousands; the Seleste smart glasses, which are offered on a subscription basis that is more like traditional leasing schemes; to the Envision smart glasses, like the Seleste model, but without the option to subscribe month-by-month.

Charli Jo @Lottie