“I hope to achieve the successful delivery of our creation – ObstAR to the real world, which can assist individuals with visual impairments in navigating their surroundings more safely and independently. ”
Mr. Nadim ZARO
Nadim was awarded a BSc in Computer Science and Artificial intelligence from Royal Holloway, University of London. Recently, he finished his MSc Venture Creation at The National University of Singapore. He is focusing on exploring the latest software techniques in obstacle detection, object recognition, route navigation, and image segmentation, and how these techniques can be practically implemented to provide assistance to individuals with visual impairments.
1. How did you get interested in eye and vision research?
I studied new developments in AR contact lenses for one of my MSc projects, which motivated me to continue working in eye and vision research. Our eyes are essential for our daily lives, they allow us to see and interact with the world around us. However, many people suffer from a variety of eye diseases and conditions that can impact their vision and quality of life. Eye and vision research seeks to understand the causes of these conditions and develop new treatments and technologies to improve vision and prevent vision loss. Thus, I wanted to work on health-related technologies that improve people’s well-being, and create better opportunities for individuals with visual impairments.
2. What brought you to CEVR?
CEVR offered a great opportunity to engage in research and development projects with the potential for commercialization in the field of health and vision sciences. Additionally, being a part of CEVR puts us in a dynamic and growing ecosystem. Researchers at CEVR have the opportunity to work on projects that not only advance scientific knowledge but also have the potential to be turned into products that can benefit people. Additionally, CEVR has a network with a variety of industry partners, allowing us to collaborate with experts from different fields and gain exposure to real-world challenges and opportunities.
3. What is your area of research?
My core research focus is on exploring the latest software approaches in obstacle detection, object recognition, route navigation, and image segmentation, and how these approaches can be practically implemented to provide assistance to individuals with visual impairments.
4. What is your main role?
In the current project, my responsibilities include defining the software logic for different algorithms, selecting which algorithms to use, implementing them with existing or original hardware, and conducting user testing for both real-world and virtual navigation. My interest is in developing real-world technologies that have the potential to grow and serve the community. I find it fascinating that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the problem of visually impaired navigation, this allows us to explore a variety of methods that can cater to different types of impairments.
5. What do you wish to achieve in your research at CEVR?
In my research at CEVR, my goal is to develop and implement new assistive technologies that can improve the lives of individuals with visual impairments. Specifically, I hope to achieve the successful delivery and commercialization of our creation, “ObstAR – Augmented reality (AR) Device Built to Aid the Visually Impaired,” to the real world, which can assist individuals with visual impairments in navigating their surroundings more safely and independently.
6. Are there any challenges? How has CEVR supported your research endeavors?
One of the key challenges in this research is to develop software that can accurately interpret the complex visual information in the environment and provide meaningful feedback to the user. For example, an obstacle detection system must be able to distinguish between different types of objects and accurately estimate their distance from the user, while a route navigation system must be able to provide clear and concise instructions to guide the user to their destination. CEVR has been there to support all our challenges, making sure we have everything we need to deliver the best results possible. CEVR has provided the tools, resources and expertise needed to build our system, and the human resources needed to test them.
7. What have you done at work that you are proud of?
I am proud of our Ideation project ObstAR which has been recognized as a flagship project in CEVR, and the speed at which it was able to manifest. We are dedicated to continuously improving our system in an iterative manner through our user data collection and comprehensive research approaches.
8. Tell us about a breakthrough moment in your research.
My research is using a very new approach which is real-time navigational output by utilizing innovative techniques in object recognition and obstacle detection. We are excited to explore the potential of virtual environments and real-world simulations in further testing and refining our findings. Our team is eager to continue pushing the boundaries of assistive technology and developing practical solutions that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals with visual impairments.
9. How is your research changing lives for the better?
Our research has contributed to the development of our AR navigation system ObstAR, which will be used to assist the visually impaired in route navigation and obstacle avoidance. Our system will give visually impaired patients a method to navigate the world independently and tackle difficult challenges on their own.
10. How has your academic background supported your work in CEVR?
My background in Computer Science has equipped me with the knowledge to create digital solutions, my entrepreneurial background and graduate studies have given me the experience needed to deliver these solutions to the real world.
11. What’s the biggest misconception about being a research student in science?
People may imagine a research student in science as an individual who is isolated in their work and studies, when in fact it is a team sport with many moving parts needed to deliver successful outcomes.
12. What would surprise people about working in science?
Working in science is not as black and white as it is portrayed to be, things change all the time which need new responses and adaptive approaches.
13. What does it take to be a researcher in sciences?
Patience, commitment, care and coffee.