Music icon Stevie Wonder is finally experiencing the wonders of sight thanks to technological advances made by a Dutch Smart Glasses company called Envision. Let’s take a look back at his journey through life as a blind superstar and find out how that title might not be relevant to him much longer.
Stevie Wonder Went Blind At Six Months
Stevie Wonder’s history with blindness started at the tender age of 6 months. Born Stevland Hardaway Morris on May 13th, 1950, Stevie was born 6 weeks premature. The hospital incubator he was held in is said to have had too much oxygen, causing retinopathy of prematurity. This means ” the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach, so he became blind.”
Despite his condition, Stevie was still a happy kid and fell into music early in life. His mother was a songwriter and raised Stevie in the Whitestone Baptist Church, where he sang in the choir. His talent was evident from early on, and by 11, Stevie was signing his first deal with Motown Records.
Stevie Wonder drew comparison early on to fellow blind musician Ray Charles, something the label leaned into as one of Stevie’s first albums was a tribute project to Ray. He scored his first #1 with “Fingertips” in 1963 off his live album Recorded Live: The 12-Year-Old Genius. From here, he would continue to rack up hits, accolades, and acclaim, making him one of the most loved and respected musicians of all time.
Years Of Rumors Surrounding Stevie Wonder’s Vision
Stevie’s sense of humor is as synonymous as his musical talents. Very early on in his career, Wonder would make jokes about his vision and lead some fans to believe that he was faking his blindness.
Shaquille O’Neal took to his podcast, Inside The NBA, to discuss a hilarious story about the time he ran into Stevie Wonder in the elevator. Shaq and Stevie lived in the same building, and one day Stevie came on the elevator, and before Shaq said a word, Stevie said, “What’s up, Shaq?”
Vice did a documentary recalling all the conspiracies about Stevie’s vision. In one instance, Stevie was on stage with Paul McCartney during a White House performance in 2010. Paul accidentally tipped over a microphone stand, and Stevie caught it without even flinching. There are also several videos of Stevie taking selfies and even taking pictures of other people. One shows him holding up a camera to his eye to snap a picture of Michael Jordan. Wonder also attends a lot of basketball games and claims to love “watching” TV.
Last year Stevie was seen behind the wheel of a car, adding more fuel to the rumors. However, Stevie was driving a Tesla, cars renowned for their self-driving feature. Many noted that he appeared to be looking ahead and “watching the road.”
Wonder laughed it off in an interview, saying, “the rumors are not true.”
Stevie Wonder Experimenting With Smart Glasses
Stevie connected with Smart Glasses company Envision during a trade fair in Los Angeles. Wonder reportedly stopped by their booth and was very interested in the technology, talking with them for hours. The technology reportedly works by “beaming images directly into the brain and bypassing the eyes.”
Stevie has been using the glasses at home and is said to be able to read his grocery list, view photos, and even find his keys at home now. The app is able to “recognize objects via artificial intelligence and then name them. It can also read the text on a label or a bus timetable and convert it into speech.”
Stevie Wonder became interested in the 'smart' glasses from Envision, a spin-off from a team of @TUDelft graduates, at a trade fair in LA. With a camera, the glasses perceive the environment, via an ear device they describe what they see. https://t.co/7Vg5uW7j48 #DesignforHealth— IDE TU Delft (@idetudelft) April 19, 2022
This breakthrough technology reportedly has Stevie’s full backing. The blind pop star has been attending conferences and tech incubators for years, looking for a product worth investing in that can make life easier for himself and so many others. On their site, the company expressed their gratitude and excitement to work with Wonder. “He was curious and enthusiastic about their possibilities. We are excited about what wonderful things he will create with them.”
About TU Delft
The Delft University of Technology is ranked #174 among the best global universities. It is located in the Netherlands. The app developers all graduated from Delft, and the development of Envision was part of CEO Karthik Mahadevan’s thesis while attaining her masters degree. To date, TU Delft has patents in various subjects based on the IPC including Human necessities, performing operations, chemistry, textiles; papers, fixed constructions, mechanical engineering, physics and electricity.