Thursday, April 20, 2006

Technology ...the bionic eye

As I've posted recently, the writers for Star trek seem to have incredible vision. There is a new post at "TCSDaily" by Glenn Reynolds (Technology, Commerce,Society) that discusses the use of optical implants to restore vision. "

Daniel Palanker, a physicist at Stanford University in California, had the idea to bypass the dead rods and cones and to stimulate the cells of the inner retina with electrical signals directly. Previous research had shown this method allowed perception of light, and Dr Palanker built a way to exploit it.

His bionic eye system is made up of a 3mm chip implanted into the retina and a pair of virtual-reality-style goggles containing a video camera. The goggles convert the video pictures into an infrared image. "The image is projected on to the retina and the retinal implant has photosensitive pixels that convert infrared light into pulses of electrical current, stimulating the cells in the retina," said Dr Palanker.

So far, he has only fitted rats and rabbits with the bionic eye. Human trials will begin in a couple of years and, when they do, Dr Palanker reckons the system will give people 20/80 vision - normal is 20/20, you need 20/40 for a driving licence and 20/400 is the legal definition of blindness - allowing people to read large fonts and recognise faces."

I posted recently about the advances in nanotechnology and this could prove to be another avenue that could be exploited in the development of bio-mechanical devices that could be used to help those with a wide variety of illnesses. Now thats a real run on sentence, I just had alot to say. I guess I need to watch those Star Trek reruns and see which stocks to buy.

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