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USC biomedical team to participate in $6 million low vision project
Date:10/5/2007

Viterbi School Computer Science Department will lead the first task of building displays with region-specific contrast enhancement display. He will work with DXO Labs to modify and extend an already existing system that was developed for photography, emphasizing visibility rather than aesthetics. In standard photography, a camera adjusts its light sensitivity to the overall luminosity in a scene, so some objects will come out much darker than the brightest object in the picture. In the contrast-enhanced display, all regions of the scene would appear equally well lit, regardless of how dark or light they actually are.

When you lose your central vision, you lose the ability to use the fovea, which is responsible for the perception of sharp details, Grywacz said. This is a region with a high concentration of cone photoreceptors.

Once that region is damaged, an individual can only see in the peripheral region of the retina, which has far fewer cone photoreceptors and can only deliver information of low resolution to the brain, he said. The near periphery is inferior to the fovea and gets confused when too many details appear in the scene; scientists call this the masking and crowding effects.

To combat that reduced ability to see sharp details, a second team of researchers will use automatic techniques to outline and simplify the main objects in a scene, as in a cartoon, to increase their visibility and salience. These simplified objects may be more easily recognizable by subjects with low vision, said Bartlett Mel, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the Viterbi School, who will lead the effort.

In the third phase of the study, a team of psychologists and clinicians from the USC College, Keck School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and University of Houston School of Optometry will develop and administer tests to measure the effectiveness of these new visual display systems. This team has expertise in b
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Contact: Diane Ainsworth
dainswor@usce.edu
213-821-5808
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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