London: Ramesh Raskar, an Indian-origin American scientist has come up with a novel concept of testing your eyes by using a smartphone and a specially designed eyepiece in the confines of one's home. The method uses the application called Near-to-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment (Netra). It includes a viewer fitted over a cellphone's screen combined with software running on the phone.
Raskar, working with the Camera Culture group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says of his unique innovation, "It can be thought of as a thermometer for visual performance." It will be showcased at the Siggraph conference in Los Angeles in July.
The test follows a simple method. The phone will show an image that appears as a pair of parallel lines, which is converted into a virtual 3D by the eyepiece. The subject needs to focus on the image and use the phone's keyboard to adjust the line so that they merge. The correction needed to the eye is gauged by the amount of adjustment done, which is then translated in dioptres-a number which opticians can use to provide corrective lenses.
A customary 3D display presents little different view to left and right eyes. However, the Netra creates the 3D illusion in another fashion- by presenting different views to different parts of the same eye simultaneously. Ankit Mohan, a Postdoctoral Researcher, who also worked on the design, explains that if the person has perfect eyesight, these separate images will overlap and appear as a single image.
The innovation of Netra surely promises to be very helpful in detecting any eye correction at your home, rather than going all the way to an eye clinic. It also will be helpful to scores of people who cannot easily access regular optometry services.