HARVARD’S ‘HOPE’ FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED
4 May 2018 Share

HARVARD’S ‘HOPE’ FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Research Assistant and graduate student at Yaşar University’s Department of Psychology, Umut Canoluk was admitted as an academic researcher for a project that is being run for people with visual impairment by the Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.  At the Peli Laboratory that has been conducting studies on treatment of visual impairments since it was founded by Dr. Eli Peli, during his 2-year stay, Canoluk will work on a research for improving the BrainPort technology that enables the visually impaired to perceive objects by picturing them in their minds through their tongues.

A RESEARCH BY WORLD FAMOUS DR. PELI

  To give information about the project that is run at the laboratory of Dr. Eli Peli who is known for numerous world famous researches, Canoluk stated, “The project’s main researcher is Dr. Jae Hyun Jung. The research is intended to improve the BrainPort system, a technology that allows the visually impaired to see objects by using their tongues. To basically explain how the system works, a cam placed on goggles retrieves visual data relating to an object, and this data is then communicated to a control mechanism that the person is holding. This system converts the digital signals from the cam into electrical vibration, and conveys them to tongue through a piece on the tongue where there is a grid-like area involving 600 electrodes. The nerves on tongue send these vibrations to brain. And the brain perceives these vibrations as visual signals, thereby redirecting them to visual cortex to help the visually impaired perceive objects in the form of pixels and see them. The project team, in which I am also a researcher, is working on what kind of differentiating features we should focus on so the device can separate objects from the background. The study last year already developed a different system to make it easier to focus solely on the object itself by separating it from the background. This system that they developed last year is better at detecting shadows and separating objects from the background. They are now working to make the system easier to use and more efficient for the visually impaired.”

  Prof. Emre Özgen, Head of the Department of Psychology and Canoluk’s thesis advisor, also noted, “He will serve at a highly reputable and important institution. We are teaching science and doing scientific researches here. We are teaching how brain and visual perception work. Umut’s studies there will further focus on the future technology relating to how this knowledge is practiced. It will be an experience for him to see how such scientific findings can be of use for people. We are proud that our student and colleague Umut has been successful and that he will represent our country there.”