Development of tools to help the visually impaired

Progetto concluso

The project developed portable cell-phone-based apps for visual recognition. This tool shall help blind people in every-day life. An additional project component explored the possibility how to restore eyesight through optogenetic technologies in combination with bionic vision enhancement. Cooperating with the Swiss Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel, the research project gave opportunities for important scientific exchange.

Paese/Regione Tema Periodo Budget
Favorire la crescita economica e migliorare le condizioni di lavoro
Ricerca e sviluppo
15.10.2010 - 30.10.2015
CHF  1’239’052

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.


According to the WHO, about 314 million people are visually impaired worldwide. This includes persons who are blind, as well as those who have a residual vision such as the capacity to tell light from dark and the general direction of a light source. Many visually impaired individuals could lead more autonomous lives with appropriate aides and could in the long term profit from fundamental research on retinal blindness.

Under a range of several research project proposals, the research approach of this project has been chosen for its relevance in clinical and basic research for visually impaired persons. The Hungarian Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Szeged / Femtonics Ltd, has been considered the appropriate research partner due to its experience and recognition.

Obiettivi By developing visual recognition tools, the project contributed to the goal to provide devices to improve the quality of life for blind or visually impaired people.  New instruments and research methods were developed within the framework of the project. In the long run, the project is expected to contribute to the research on restoring some visual function of people with visual impairment.
Gruppi target

Visually impaired and blind people (VIABP), neuroscience research community, Hungarian high-tech industry

Attività The project developed technologies for the visually impaired to gain information about the visual world, e.g. an application for smartphones to recognize the value of bills (in Hungarian Forint and in Euro). In addition, optogenetic technologies in combination with bionic vision enhancement were tested in animal models. The novel 3D laser scanning microscope that had been developed under the project, is used more widely than planned originally.

Risultati raggiunti:  

First, apps for cell phones have been developed that shall in future help to recognize paper money (so far, HUF and Euros can be recognized by the test version) or colours or other features that are important to guide blind people in their everyday life. Particular attention is given to the high precision which is very demanding from an IT perspective. Patent application is not done as too time consuming and expensive – the team rather counts on advantages in the market by high standard of the products. A second ‘tool’ that within the project is an optogenetic method for restoring vision for certain diseases (e.g. retinitis pigmentosa) has been developed. This part of the research includes the measurement of in-time brain activity which is possible thanks to an exceptional microscope method; this technological advancement is possible based on a partnership with the private enterprise Femtonics Ltd which provides a high speed and high resolution 3D microscope.

This project offered Swiss and Hungarian research institutions the opportunity to cooperate and build partnerships for mutual benefit. A peer review has confirmed the importance of this whole project.


Direzione/Ufficio responsabile DSC
Credito Contributo svizzero all'allargamento dell'UE
Partner del progetto Partner contrattuale
Instituzione statale straniera
  • National State Institute North
  • Institute on IT and bionices; Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel

Budget Fase in corso Budget Svizzera CHF    1’239’052 Budget svizzero attualmente già speso CHF    1’070’768
Fasi del progetto

Fase 1 15.10.2010 - 30.10.2015   (Completed)