OXSIGHT secures seed funding from Chinese entrepreneur to support growth
The University of Oxford spin-out, Oxsight, uses the latest smart glasses to improve sight for blind and partially sighted people. OxSight’s aim is to develop sight enhancing technologies to improve the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people around the world, affected by conditions like glaucoma, diabetes and retinitis pigmentosa as well as some other degenerative eye diseases.
The OxSight smart glasses use a unique camera system and computer vision algorithms to detect and highlight objects, separating them from the background in real-time. This allows people with even the lowest amount of sight to make better use of their vision in challenging everyday scenarios.
During 2016/17 OxSight raised seed funding from Chinese angel investor Mr Zhang Jiangong, who joins existing partners who include Google (in 2014, the Oxford/Royal National Institute of the Blind smart glasses project won a Google Impact Challenge), the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the University of Oxford and the Royal Academy of Engineering. As the new Chairman, Mr Zhang is guiding OxSight though the critical initial phases and helping the company with an introduction to the Chinese market.
OxSight founder Dr Stephen Hicks said:
“About 90 per cent of legally blind people retain some residual vision. Our aim is to allow individuals to make the most of this”.
“Behind these glasses is ten years of work developing a real-time computer vision algorithm that mimics some of the basic components of human visual perception. It highlights edges and features which make many objects easier to see, especially in low light where many people struggle.”
OxSight CEO Dr Rakesh Roshan said:
“We aim to move swiftly to develop these glasses for the blind community to use day-to-day, greatly improving their independence. They have already given us valuable feedback and co-operation, and our aim is to hit our regulatory, technical and manufacturing milestones as quickly as possible.”
Mr Zhang commented:
“OxSight offers immense value to society globally. It has been a great pleasure working with a very talented team at Oxford and we look forward to building new partnerships and making a significant impact.”
Technology commercialisation company Oxford University Innovation assisted the researchers in protecting the intellectual property and commercialising the smart glasses. The technology is protected by patents, copyright and proprietary know how. RTC Innovation, a UK-based Chinese technology transfer company also provided valuable support.