Ever wish you could see life through the eyes of a Terminator? Well, we’re not there quite yet… and hopefully never will be, but this new development in bionics is truly amazing.
A team of researchers from Monash University, Australia, are working on an bionic eye that bypasses the ocular system. Mind blown? The team is trying to restore some semblance of sight for blind people and have been working on a system that utilizes 11 tiny tiles implanted in various parts of the brain that receive and process signals related to certain visual stimuli. At this point in time the technology isn’t exactly good enough to enable researchers to create a system that’s non-invasive, but it’s a step. Each of the tiles will contain 43 electrodes that are supposed to stimulate the brain with hopes of creating dots of light (similar to pixels) that are akin to those produced by healthy eyes.
A healthy pair of eyes produce a whopping 1-2 million pixels of vision. These bionic eyes will produce around 500. Obviously, that’s a huge disparity, but researchers have set a goal of making life easier for the blind by producing a crude image. Baby steps, people. The team have compared the sight they hope to achieve with a photo taken of a 1920s image produced by John Baird’s ‘telivisor,’ which is credited by many as being the first television.
So, how does this work? Glad you asked! The team did a bit of a MacGyver and put together a pair of glasses combined with a digital camera, eye movement sensor, a digital processor and a wireless transmitter. The camera uses the eye-tracking within the glasses to detect movement and will adjust accordingly to emulate a healthy eye. The signal is subsequently processed and transmitted wirelessly to the aforementioned tiles within the brain. This then forms a rough image from the data.
The technology relies on a set of glasses that contain a digital camera, eye movement sensor, a digital processor and a wireless transmitter. The camera will move similarly to a healthy eye by using eye-tracking within the glasses to detect movement and adjust the camera accordingly.
The signal is then processed and wirelessly transmitted to the tiles within the brain in order to create a rough image from the data.
Naturally, this has a great deal of value with regards to the blind and visually impaired who could become more independent from regaining some semblance of sight. As technology improves this will likely grant us all Superman-esque vision and blindness will be a thing of the past.\