Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maggie’s High-Tech Glasses

By Erica Lawrence ’11

News from the Academic Support Center:

If you see a student in classrooms or around campus with magnifying goggles in, it’s probably junior Maggie Austen sporting the JORDY, the latest piece of technology for legally blind individuals. For you Star Trek fans out there wondering if there is a connection between the name JORDY and Geordi La Forge, there is! But, if you are unfamiliar with Star Trek, the connection is important because Geordi La Forge was a blind character who wore shiny headband-shaped glasses to see. The spelling change occurred because the word “JORDY” actually stands for “Joint Optical Reflective Display.”

When describing the look of the new device, Maggie compares it to night vision goggles, and even though they do not have this feature, they’re so advanced that she says they probably could. “It’s basically like binoculars, except they’re electronically magnified. There’s a camera in the headpiece and it projects the image onto the screens that are like glasses in front of your eyes,” she says. It’s actually so powerful that she can’t use it in the front row during class because she loses perspective of the board.

Other features include color contrast options to make certain things stand out more, and a locate button that you can click and it will zoom out all the way, circle something in red, and zoom back in. The only downside is that it cannot be used while walking.

She received the device as a gift from the New York State Commission for the Blind before spring break and cannot wait to use it on her trip to Israel this summer.

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