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[Interview] An Inside Look at the Development of Relúmĭno
This year at CES, Samsung showcases Relúmĭno glasses – smart visual aid eyeglasses to help people with vision challenges see images clearer when they are reading a book or viewing an object. And Relúmĭno and Relúmĭno glasses are expected to help people with visual impairments to utilize the technology more comfortably.
But what exactly did it take to develop a product like Relúmĭno? Last year, Samsung had partnered with Professor Moon Nam Ju’s team at Department of Ophthalmology of Chung-Ang University Hospital for clinical trials involving Relúmĭno. Here, Professor Moon discusses the team’s effort to make Relumino more convenient and helpful for people with visual impairments.
Q. Please introduce your clinical research team.
The low vision clinic of Chung-Ang University Hospital has oculists, nurses, opticians and hospital social workers. It provides support for people with low vision to help them overcome the obstacles of their everyday life and achieve a better quality of life. Our clinic and Relúmĭno, a project team of Samsung C-Lab, worked together for the clinical trial.
Q. How did you become a part of Relúmĭno development?
I was always concerned with ways to help patients with low vision in their rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many of these patients consider themselves blind and give up on treatment, resulting in lost opportunities to get better. When Jeonghun Cho, Leader of Relúmĭno, came to me with his plan for Relúmĭno, it was a new inspiration. I joined the project willingly as Leader Cho’s intentions were good and genuinely focused on the well-being of patients.
Q. Please explain the clinical trials for the development of Relúmĭno.
We recruited patients with vision impairment who also know how to use electronic devices. We surveyed the patients to find out what low-vision aids they were already using, the purpose of these visual aid devices as well as the patients’ satisfaction level of the device. We also analyzed clinical improvements of patients by repeating visual function examinations of maximum corrected eyesight on long and short distance, contrast sensitivity as well as reading speed before and after using the devices.
Q. How did the examinations proceed?
Patients who were not satisfied with the conventional, low vision aid devices were mostly positive about the clinical trial. Among low vision patients who participated the trial, around 40 patients were selected to be examined for their visual functions without using any aid devices. After explaining to the patients the functions of Relúmĭno and how to use them, we reexamined the patients.
Q. Regarding research design and trial procedures, was there anything you considered particularly?
Most of the people with low vision use magnifiers to see objects in short distances. For long distances, telescopes can be used, but they are not as useful as they are not easy to carry and make users’ visions narrow. When we designed Relúmĭno, we wanted to make a vision aid device that can support both short and long distances at the same time. Also, we wanted to add a function that can help the patients with damages to macula lutea to see clearly as those patients could not be helped with the conventional optical vision aid devices.
Q. What was the result of clinical trials?
A total of 39 patients out of 40 completed the trial and their average age was 54.64 (standard deviation 22.70). Over 97% of patients had significant improvement in their vision in short, medium and long distances while using the device. People with low vision who had a maximum of 0.1 in corrected eyesight used Relúmĭno to achieve up to 0.8 corrected eyesight.
Also, their contrast sensitivities and reading accuracy increased significantly in statistics. On device satisfaction, all patients responded that they are satisfied with the performance of Relúmĭno, and more than half (54%) of patients answered that the device was easy to use. Also, as the patients rated their average visual functions for everyday activities around 11.7 points (total 30 points), but the number increased to 19.5 points after using the device.
Q. Has there been any feedback from the patients with low vision in the clinical trial reflected in Relúmĭno? Please explain which feedback was well implemented.
Relúmĭno went through several improvements to become the product that you see today. We had several meetings to listen to what the patients have to say. In the beginning, patients had difficulties with dizziness, slow focusing speed and difficult control over the device. The Relúmĭno team immediately reflected patients’ feedback and updated based on the patients’ wants, and that is one of the most important reasons why the result is so successful.
Q. Can you give us some cases where patients received huge benefits from using the Relúmĭno app?
All patients who participated the research were very much satisfied with Relúmĭno. One of the patients, who could only see the front from an “eccentric view” by turning the head due to damage of macula lutea, was happy that Relúmĭno eliminated the need to turn the head to see the front using a relocation function. Also, another patient who suffered from depression due to unemployment status after losing sight used Relúmĭno app and regained strength to live a normal life again. That patient got another job and thanked us several times.
Q. Please tell us your expectations on Relúmĭno in the future.
Lately, many people are interested in the area of low vision, but there are not enough rehabilitation facilities and resources for people with low vision in Korea. As the saying well begun is half done, I hope Relúmĭno would be the foundation of drawing more attention and supports for people with low vision to give them courage and hope to achieve their better future.