Novartis launches new smart watch apps for visually impaired

30 June 2015 (Last Updated June 30th, 2015 18:30)

Novartis Pharmaceuticals has launched new features for its ViaOpta applications for use with the Apple Watch and other smart watches.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals has launched new features for its ViaOpta applications for use with the Apple Watch and other smart watches.

Dubbed ViaOpta Navigation and ViaOpta Daily, the apps offer the benefits of discreet, hands-free usage with wearable devices and can be seamlessly integrated to ease the daily operations of visually impaired individuals.

The previous versions of the applications were only compatible with iPhone and Android mobile phones.

The new ViaOpta Navigation is equipped with features to navigate nearby points of interest and can offer extended map coverage.

The app offers voice guidance and vibration settings that alert the user to upcoming intersections and landmarks, such as tactile pavement and crossings, traffic lights with sound.

"With the help of ViaOpta apps, people with impaired vision can do things, such as walk to a nearby café, go to the pharmacy, and pick up their grandchildren at the kindergarten."

The user can ask for their exact position, add waypoints to a calculated route, and find nearby destinations or landmarks and save them as favourites.

The improved ViaOpta Daily has been added with latest features, including a new object recogniser and scene recogniser.

The European Forum Against Blindness chair Ian Banks said: "With the help of ViaOpta apps, people with impaired vision can do things such as walk to a nearby café, go to the pharmacy, and pick up their grandchildren at the kindergarten - helping to increase confidence and independence and maintaining discretion.

Smartphone version of these patient apps, which help facilitate recognition of everyday items, such as money, colours, objects, and people, had already been downloaded more than 6,700 times within the two months after its initial launch.

The ViaOpta apps are currently available in several languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian, and Hungarian.