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Using Fractal Interconnects To Improve Electronic Eyes

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the fixing-g'kar's-eyesight dept.

Medicine 73

An anonymous reader writes "Electronic eyes today remind me of Frankenstein with the way they jab electrodes from each pixel into the optic nerve and hope for the best. Some researchers claim to have solved this problem by growing fractal electrodes that mimic the way real eyes connect retinal cells to the optic nerve. If they are right — and their research will find out over the next year — then next-generation eEyes could enable the blind to not just detect objects, but to see again normally."

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73 comments

Resistance is futile (3, Interesting)

elPetak (2016752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231790)

I want my eyes with enhanced reality... can I have them?

Re:Resistance is futile (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36231936)

Apparently you are not the only one thinking of enhanced vision. Did you see the funders?

U.S. Navy and Air Force.

Re:Resistance is futile (4, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231988)

I feel like we're only 20-50 years away from the stuff you can attach to your body being better in most ways than the originals. The only problem is a I feel like bionic limb replacements are going to cost an arm and a leg.

Re:Resistance is futile (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231996)

The only problem is a I feel like bionic limb replacements are going to cost an arm and a leg.

We take lungs now, gills come next week.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36258884)

Full quote, if you'd like to read it. :-)

Fry: Now that you mention it, I do have trouble breathing underwater sometimes. I'll take the gills.
Shady Guy: Yes, gills. Then, uh, you don't need lungs anymore, is right?
Fry: Can't imagine why I would.
Shady Guy: Lie down on table. I take lungs now, gills come next week.

Re:Resistance is futile (2)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232094)

I would give my big toe for a super balancing foot.

Re:Resistance is futile (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232136)

Nah chummer, Doc in Chiba hook you up real nice for cheap even.

Only set you back a few hundred New Yen, cheaper if ya catch a sale.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232590)

You joke, but yeah.

Anyone interested in cybernetic eye replacements? I used to think it'd be awesome, and then I read the surgery story in Renraku Shutdown. *cringe*. I wish I could find a legit version on the web to link, as it does a really good job of de-glamorizing the idea of having your eyes taken out and replaced with "better" ones.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

capo_dei_capi (1794030) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232428)

Probably more down to the fact that they're the biggest "manufacturers" of cripples rather than anything else.

Re:Resistance is futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232636)

yeah you know that organ donor form, apparently the fine print says they not only can they take stuff out, but they can also put stuff in....

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232162)

Upgrades are painful. That is the main thing about cyber implants. Sure they are cool for the short term but in a few years they are out of date and you either need to go threw surgery again to get new ones or just stay with the out dated model. Yea I should have waited for the VGA enhanced reality, but I am stuck with CGA display.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232340)

Upgrades are painful.

Zydrate comes in a little glass vial...

a Little glass vial? ...a little glass vial (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36235240)

and that little glass vial goes into the gun like a battery

Re:Resistance is futile (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232412)

I want my eyes with enhanced reality

You can leave my eyes alone. Just give me the enhanced reality.

Re:Resistance is futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233922)

You mean like seeing a wider range of color? Or augmented reality, like a built in HUD giving you additional text and symbols?

The first one can kind of, sort of, be done... but it'd be no different that IR/lowlight goggles already do. (The only way to "natively" gain a wider visual range would be to have that added to your retinas at birth, so that your brain wires itself to appropriately interpret them.) As an eye implant for an adult, though, it'd just be false color; input from other frequencies, shifted to the normal visual range depending on the context. Like in normal conditions you'd only see the normally-visible frequencies, and as those get dimmer, the chip would color in more and more of the available infrared into the signal it's sending you.

We can't do a HUD yet because that requires computer image recognition at a level we don't have yet, and a MUCH higher resolution implant than we have now. The image recognition would have to be almost as good as what our brain normally does - piecing together our 3D world based on the little slice the camera is seeing as it turns and moves, so that it knows where everything is and WHAT everything is, so that it can add the labels as we look at those things.

Without the image recognition, you could probably sit down at a computer and do a visual-only "plug into the matrix" thing, maybe with head tracking thrown in. Though it'd only look as good as a modern 3D video game downsampled to whatever the actual resolution of the chip is.

The way the old and new visual chips work, by the way, is this: they implant the electrodes to the furthest-out (the "eye" end of the eye-brain connection) nerves that still work. Then they do lots of calibration tests where they send a minimal signal - and you describe what you're seeing. Basically finding out how the points the electrodes ended up at correspond to what your eyes used to use. They go through all possible inputs like that, and use it to build a mapping from the camera to the way your brain is already naturally wired. So once they've done that, they could send any valid signal. You don't get to see any more than you naturally could.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36236144)

The only way to "natively" gain a wider visual range would be to have that added to your retinas at birth, so that your brain wires itself to appropriately interpret them.

This doesn't sound right. The article intimates that the brain of any recipient already needs to relearn how to see based on the new input from the artificial retinas. They specifically mention that it is the plasticity of the visual cortex that allows the patient to be able to 'learn' to see using the implants. So why would it not be able to learn an added chromatic option. The human brain is capable of doing this. Some women have an added cone in their retinas making them able to see four colours as opposed to only 3 (and sometimes less) for men. It would be my guess that if they added more colour sensors than for red, green, and blue, say ultraviolet or infrared, the visual cortex would learn to interpret them. Like Geordi Laforge without the hair clip over his eyes.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238196)

We can't do a HUD yet because that requires computer image recognition at a level we don't have yet, and a MUCH higher resolution implant than we have now. The image recognition would have to be almost as good as what our brain normally does - piecing together our 3D world based on the little slice the camera is seeing as it turns and moves, so that it knows where everything is and WHAT everything is, so that it can add the labels as we look at those things.

Implanted HUDs are wrong, wrong, WRONG and that's just all there is to it. A HUD is a bottleneck created by the necessity of presenting information to the human senses: capable of processing visual and auditory stimuli (well, those are the ones that the HUD would be targeted to). The whole purpose of an implant is to bypass the information bottlenecks created by our physical senses; there's no reason to artificially re-impose them. Because as you said, all you're really doing is out-sourcing a whole lot of the brain's existing intelligence - "The image recognition would have to be almost as good as what our brain normally does". Exactly. You're re-inventing the wheel.

The correct approach is to directly wire the extra stimuli to the brain. If we can figure out how to get it the information, it will re-configure itself to process it - we're finding that it's incredibly good at doing that. Once it does that, it will not be some hacked overlay onto one of our existing senses, like a HUD or an audible alarm - it will be a true sixth sense, processed along with all the rest of the information that the brain receives. As the other commenter said, simply adding extra information should be enough; the brain will figure out how to interpret it entirely on its own.

So if you're trying to present the brain a better 3D picture of the world, the correct approach is not to design a computer that does wire-frame meshes on everything. The brain is already extremely good at doing that. The correct approach would be to simply feed it raw data from a rangefinder and let it build up the 3D models on its own.

techno-babble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36231802)

Fractal interconnects? It sounds like Star Trek techno-babble.
  http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Fractal_encryption_code [memory-alpha.org]

Re:techno-babble (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36234142)

Fractal interconnects? It sounds like Star Trek techno-babble.

The link says - "fractals generally representing recursive geometric shapes that cannot be deciphered through traditional Euclidean geometric language"
That part of the link is actually real techno babble, possibly one of the writers got it from the CGI guys since one of the Star Trek movies (Khan?) was the first movie to use fractals to generate special effects.

That would suck. (3, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231814)

Imagine only being able to see fractals everywhere you look. I think I'd go crazy!

Re:That would suck. (1)

elPetak (2016752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231838)

You never tried LSD did you?

(Me neither... but I guess it should be similar)

Re:That would suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36231894)

"Shrooms" once caused me to perceive a fractal of planets orbiting planets. It was actually quite distressing at the time. The "oh god, it never ends!" factor was horrifying.

Re:That would suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36231962)

Had you read Rudy Rucker's "the fourth dimension" the day before that? There he describes things like that. I often try imagining them in bed, before I sleep. No success so far.

Re:That would suck. (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232038)

LSD messes with your mind, not with your vision.

(Don't ask me how I know this.)

Re:That would suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232080)

Vision is part of the mind. Read "Eye and Brain", by Richard L. Gregory. Gave me many insights.

Re:That would suck. (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232198)

Take more acid (at once). Trust me, it eventually affects your vision.

That would rock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36231862)

That'd be my definition of paradise.

Re:That would suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232044)

Any solid color is just a Sierpinski carpet, the holes are too small to notice.

Re:That would suck. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36234184)

Imagine only being able to see fractals everywhere you look. I think I'd go crazy!

I think you may be on to something. Outside the straight lined environment of the basement is a world full of fractals and crazy people.

Nature is a computer (and that's a fact) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36231886)

"For instance, the trunk of a tree divides into branches using the same fractal algorithm that is used for the veins in a leaf."
Whenever I read that kind of bullshit in a "science" report, I gain some understanding why some people think "intelligent design" is an alternative to evolution, compatible with scientific principles.

Re:Nature is a computer (and that's a fact) (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232238)

1. Define fractal.
2. Define algorithm.
3. Define nature.
4. Define computer.
5. Don't make any connections between the above steps.
6. Make more ignorant comments.

Re:Nature is a computer (and that's a fact) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232514)

1. Define fractal.
Mandelbrot didn't, and he gave good reasons why he didn't (read his books).
2. Define algorithm.
Turing, Church, Kleene and several others did.
3. Define nature.
Everything not man-made.
4. Define computer.
Turing and von Neumann did.
5. Don't make any connections between the above steps.
Done.
6. Make more ignorant comments.
Ask yourself who's ignorant here. Trees don't grow by an algorithm. If you believe this, you don't understand anything the Creationists don't.

Re:Nature is a computer (and that's a fact) (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232698)

Algorithm: a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps

Biological growth (trees are biological, in case you didn't know) has a set of rules and occurs in a finite number of steps. Repetition of a process does not make the steps of that process infinite.

Re:Nature is a computer (and that's a fact) (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238224)

3. Define nature.
Everything not man-made.

Man isn't part of nature? What makes us so damned special that we're an unnatural force? If nature is a computer and man is a product of nature, then how is man somehow not a force of nature?

DO YOU understand anything the Creationists don't?

Re:Nature is a computer (and that's a fact) (1)

mhelander (1307061) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244102)

"Trees don't grow by an algorithm. If you believe this, you don't understand anything the Creationists don't."

Not only fractal growth but also Darwinian evolution by natural selection is algorithmic (see for example "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by Dan Dennett). Please note that many creationists understand this quite well (without buying into the concept that Darwinian evolution is responsible for the speciation on earth).

Another step towards star-trek. - VISOR - (2)

carcomp (1887830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232022)

From http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/VISOR [memory-alpha.org] The VISOR, acronym for Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement, was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight or who were born blind. The VISOR detected electromagnetic signals across the entire EM spectrum between 1 Hz and 100,000 THz and transmitted those signals to the brain through neural implants in the temples of the individual via delta-compressed wavelengths. We may not be at brain-interface yet, but looks like we are heading in the right direction.

Re:Another step towards star-trek. - VISOR - (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233192)

"The VISOR detected electromagnetic signals across the entire EM spectrum between 1 Hz and 100,000 THz"

As much as I thought the VISOR was a cool concept (which got me interested in multispectral imaging back when I was a kid), unless I'm doing the math wrong, I think someone just made those numbers up (and I don't mean the Star Trek scriptwriters). 100,000 THz (100 PHz, right?) doesn't even get you all of the way through X-rays, let alone into gamma territory.

Also, is it even possible for something that small to detect radio waves of 1 Hz? That's a wavelength of 300 million meters, according to this calculator [csgnetwork.com] .

Re:Another step towards star-trek. - VISOR - (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233596)

Get back to me when you can make it out of an air filter.

It's Alive! (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232070)

"Electronic eyes today remind me of Frankenstein with the way they jab electrodes from each pixel into the optic nerve and hope for the best. Some researchers claim to have solved this problem by growing fractal electrodes that mimic the way real eyes connect retinal cells to the optic nerve."

The latter would seem to be far more Frankensteinian.

Obviously... (2)

imyy4u3 (1290108) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232132)

I can "see" why the blind would like this! (excuse the bad joke!) Then again, how would a blind person, who has never been able to see before, be able to function in a world where all of a sudden (s)he could see? (s)He would be overwhelmed, and would have to re-learn everything - walking, etc., as his/her balance and entire life to that point had been based upon their other senses...I wonder if anyone has taken into account if any blind people actually "want" to see? I mean I can't see in the 4th dimension, but if you told me I could, would I really want to? I'm guessing many people wouldn't want to (at least not permanently).

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232286)

If there was a way to see infrared, or ultra violet I'd like to have it.
If there was a way to hear ultrasonics, or subsonics I'd like to have it.
If there was a way to see heat (a la Predator), I'd like to have it.
If there was a way to smell lies, I'd like to have it.

Of course I'd want, in each case, a way to switch the additional sensory organ off. But that should be feasible.
In fact, I often wish I could switch my ears off.

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232738)

If there was a way to see infrared, or ultra violet I'd like to have it.
If there was a way to hear ultrasonics, or subsonics I'd like to have it.
If there was a way to see heat (a la Predator), I'd like to have it.
If there was a way to smell lies, I'd like to have it.

I was about to grant your wish, but first you will have to tell me how "seeing heat (a la Predator)" is something different than
being able to "see infrared"?

Re:Obviously... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#36235988)

I was about to grant your wish, but first you will have to tell me how "seeing heat (a la Predator)" is something different than
being able to "see infrared"?

near/short infrared(0.75-3 m) is the kind of light used in remotes and cameras that only need filters Vs. mid/long infrared(3–15 m) which heat-seeking missiles and cameras that need cooling use.

Re:Obviously... (2)

plalonde2 (527372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232306)

Most blind people aren't blind since birth. A large fraction of blind folks suffer from age-related macular degeneration, where the reflective pigment at the back of the eye gets damaged or destroyed (through a few mechanisms), or the retinal "screen" is otherwise damaged (torn, distorted, occluded) by capillary leakage and scarring. In some cases it's very narrow areas - you won't notice them if they are in the periphery - but they wreak havoc if they are centrally located and/or spreading. Note that these processes don't affect the neurons as much as the detection equipment and/or shape of the receptor field.

Add the baby boomer effect, and it's become very profi^H^H^H^H^Hrelevant to be able to overcome these degenerations.

Re:Obviously... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232350)

Those born blind wouldn't know what they're missing but I imagine they would be persuaded by the people who would jump at a chance of being able to see, namely people who have been rendered blind.

As for seeing through time I've read Dune and frankly I don't think I want the gift of prescience, not unless I can turn it off when I want to à la Mrs Cake.

Re:Obviously... (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232390)

Yeah but can it run Android?

Re:Obviously... (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232772)

While there might be a few adults blind since birth that would opt out for such reasons, you can wager that blind children of seeing parents would get it rather quick, on the parents' authority as legal guardians. The fact that they would be adapting in early childhood means they would likely be almost, if not completely, normal by adulthood. So those blind persons who might think the detriments outweigh the benefits would be categorized as niche that would only diminish over time.

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36236162)

You're a fucking retard.

Re:Obviously... (2)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36236356)

I think in a way it's the same as the situation regarding Cochlear Implants (CI) for profound hearing loss. CI are good for adults that lost their hearing at an advanced age, or for babies that are hearing impaired from birth, provided the CI are implanted at a young age (usually before the age of 6-12 mo). The reason is that every sense in our body has both a receptor part (eye, ear, nose, etc.) and an area of the brain tasked with processing the information*. The area in the brain is developed by being stimulated, just like a muscle is built by use. But it's worse than muscles: if the area has never been used, it cannot develop in a later age, so you have to stimulate it as soon as possible. Today it is known that the sooner you implant a baby with a CI, the better the results.
That was the medical side of the issue. The other part is moral: How can we decide for someone if he needs something? Lots of blind and deaf people have succeeded in life without help. OTOH, there is no doubt that life is much harder when you are short one modality compared to everyone else, and this handicap is much more obvious for blindness than it is for deafness. I think the moral dilemma is more difficult for deaf people (esp. deaf children born into deaf families; hearing parents would like nothing better than to have "normal" children). For blindness I don't think there will be any objection to such treatment.

So, assuming the technology gets there (and it will, someday):
Medically - The implant will probably be useful for congenital blindness (if implanted at an early-enough age) and for people who have lost their vision in later life.
Morally - Although there might be some objection about tempering with a child who is too young to decide for himself, I believe most would agree its for his benefit. At a later age, people can decide for themselves (although I personally would love to get my vision back, if I ever lost it).

* This is a bit of an oversimplification since a bit of preliminary processing happens in the sensing organ.

P.S.
I don't think you have to be so pedantic about using both male and female pronouns [s(he), his/her]. Just use the male, and everyone will understand you meant both. Nobody will think you meant to treat only men, and not women.

Re:Obviously... (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36236588)

neuroplasticity would allow some semblance of vision.

experiments have been done where a person was able to see images through a rig strapped to their back that applied pressure to a large patch of skin divided into "pixels".

if there's data coming in, the brain will try to use it for something.

Not that simple (3, Interesting)

symes (835608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232154)

It is not just about replacing the retina - you have to learn to see and this involves higher cortical function. If you have gone without site for a very long time then learning to see isn't neccessarily that easy and can cause considerable distress and disorientation. Sure, for those who have seen and lost sight for a short period of time then lets hope this works out. But it isn't the solution to everyone's problems.

Re:Not that simple (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232166)

Yeah fuck all this learning shit, I want to be blind!

Re:Not that simple (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232210)

LMAO!

Re:Not that simple (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232548)

You joke, but curing deafness with cochlear implants can ruin the lives of patients if they have the surgery as adults.

I can't find a link, but I remember a story I head on NPR years ago about a man who got the implant and had to not only learn how to understand spoken English, but also learn how to tune out all the environmental sounds that he had never experienced before. The latter is something those of us with hearing probably take for granted, but it was making it impossible for him to concentrate on work. An air conditioning unit running in the background was impossible to tune out.

GP is right, the success of these implants is very much tied to the amount of time between loss of sight/hearing and the surgery.

Re:Not that simple (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232626)

If you remember the story, the implants have an off switch, so often times he just turned them off and everything was dandy. Made it less useful, but was far from ruining his life.

Re:Not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233582)

It's not exactly the duration of hearing/vision loss. What specifically matters is the age range during which you didn't have the sense. Early childhood brain development does a LOT of high level self-calibration, and if you miss out on that, the areas of the brain that should have been used for the missing sense get repurposed to augment other functions.

You've touched on the hearing part: hearing ties deeply into our language processing centers (with a lot of overlap into music, too.. sometimes when one is damaged, therapy using the other is incredibly helpful to recovery). If you have no hearing during a large enough chunk of your early childhood, it's the same as those cases we occasionally hear about with extremely neglected/abused children or infants raised in the wild by animals; you lack some critical human language development and will never be fluent. (That's also why detecting deafness early is really important: you need to start teaching sign language and reading, before it's too late). Or in other words: hearing isn't just the hardware, but also the ability to interpret the high level meaning of the signals. If you never had the interpretation part, gaining the hardware won't help you much.

The vision equivalent is in facial and object recognition, mapping objects to meanings, and coordination. It's not a coincidence that those are also things we're having tons of trouble getting computers to do - they're the hard part! People who regain sight (or gain it for the first time) after having been blind in early youth have a lot of trouble with these things; they can see, but they don't intuitively interpret. I remember one particularly strange example from a documentary on this - a patient still needed his blind cane outside, because unless he was concentrating very hard on walking, he'd trip over sidewalk curbs. For everyone else, sight and physical motion are tied so deeply together that we automatically step over things correctly without thinking about it. If I remember correctly, he couldn't read facial expressions without a lot of active effort either - another thing that normally ends up hard-wired as an automatic feature for the rest of us. Again, the hardware and the ability to interpret the signal are two separate abilities.

The other half of the proof: people who could hear and see from birth to their teens can lose those senses for decades, then return to almost-native normalness when those senses are even partially restored. Some of the first people who got the old-style "bunch of probes into the brain, plugged into a camera" artificial eyesight were walking around like normal pretty much immediately, even though they only had something like 256 pixels of 4-bit monochrome monoscopic vision. Seriously, one was even competently enough with that to drive a car. That's because these people already the brain wiring for interpreting their senses before they lost the direct sensory parts.

Re:Not that simple (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232658)

There's a vast chasm of difference between that which is not necessarily easy, and that which is too difficult to be of practical value.

Re:Not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233132)

Was just imagining what it might be like for someone who has never seen to be suddenly gifted with sight. I imagine they might freak out as if they were on a really bad acid trip because their brain couldn't make sense of this new input.

After surgery, perhaps start the patient off blindfolded in a small, dimly-lit, padded room with nothing in it. Then slowly raise the lights as the patient sees parts of their body for the first time - hands, feet, etc. - and starts to make the connection between the sensations of touch and sight. Standing and moving around would quite likely make them very nauseous so perhaps dope them up a little beforehand. Then start introducing familiar objects - an apple, a braille book, etc. Essentially going through a physical rehabilitation process but geared towards vision.

They'd probably really freak out the first time they see a human face, especially their own (in a mirror). And then being introduced to photographs, and then video... would be a fascinating process and easily overwhelming for the patient.

Re:Not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36233366)

Here's a real world experience that I have seen over much of my life:

My father, now 84, had scarlet feaver as a child. This illness today is mostly an incovenience, but in those day is was usually life changing if not fatal, as a result he lost hearing in 1 ear. He worked around heavy equipment and slowely lost 80% hearing in his other ear. about 30 years ago he had surgury on his "deaf ear" that was damaged from the feaver--it seemed not to have any affect. About 5 years ago, they found that he had about 12 percent hearing the ear he had surgury on and about 20 percent in the other. They fitted him with hearing aids and he was incredibly happy until he stepped out into the real world. The richness of sounds that he had not heard since he was 8 terrified him. We worked with getting him to wear them around the house, but even so, a car driving by would startle him; birds chirping were something he didn't even remember and could not relate, it was an alien sound to him; and a barking dog blocks away would cause him to jump from the chair on the defensive--ready to fight off an attack. He only wears them occasionally, usually to a Dr appointment so he can hear the instruction and answer questions. Life with silence for that long, does not always welcome sound back in.

Re:Not that simple (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36236716)

From what I recall there are many people who are blind who are not 80 years old with the stiff brain that age brings on. I think there are likely many people much younger who are blind and who this will greatly benefit. I can't see (no pun intended) someone who has to be careful not to be killed by things they cannot see not wanting the added benefit of sight. Humans are not meant to be blind. We evolved to have sight. If natural selection was not trumped by society and science, people who are blind, deaf, and all other physical and mental disabilities would not survive. Modern society has collectively, a great deal of pity and so this is no longer the case. It doesn't mean living with a disability is better or OK if it can be remedied.

Why stop there? (2)

mjperson (160131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232310)

>then next-generation eEyes could enable the blind to not just detect objects, but to see again normally.

Why stop at normally? Full zoom, magnifications, color-filtering, recording mode... All the stuff up front is nigh-trivial compared to the interface they are working on. Once you have an interface, the world is your oyster.

Re:Why stop there? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232692)

Only if genetic enhancements are permitted for me and my non-handicapped children.

Re:Why stop there? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233008)

>then next-generation eEyes could enable the blind to not just detect objects, but to see again normally.

Why stop at normally? Full zoom, magnifications, color-filtering, recording mode... All the stuff up front is nigh-trivial compared to the interface they are working on. Once you have an interface, the world is your oyster.

Hell, I've given this some thought -- why stop at recording / filtering mode? Enable Playback too!

Also, let's have wireless streaming video from the eye into my computer. Oh, playback? Why can't that work both ways? Send optical data from the computer straight into the eye (MPAA would really like this -- DRM to the brain, but it can be used for good too).

We're starting to create limbs that can be operated by brain waves / nerve impulses, and patients train using a computer simulation -- hell, couple that with real time video input into your eye(s) and you're half way to the matrix.

People think I'm crazy when I start talking about building my robot body, but I'm serious. I already have carpel tunnel syndrome and I'm only 31 (been coding since 8, switching to Dvorak helped a bit in my 20s). My robot hands, and/or direct computer interface would allow me to keep making Free Software long after I would otherwise be retired as a cripple.

Probably Not That Trivial (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36234552)

The brain is pretty plastic, but how much of the optic nerve is dedicated to communication back to the eyeball? I think they do most of the stuff they do reflexively. Your eye might have added functionality, but you might never be able to learn to use it. I guess you could put buttons somewhere and manipulate the functionality by poking yourself in the eye, but that sounds like a huge pain in the eye.

Re:Probably Not That Trivial (1)

loimprevisto (910035) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237010)

Most science fiction featuring artificial eyes has one's sight adjusted by combinations of eye movenents and blinking rather than feedback from the optic nerve. Controlling it with the voluntary muscle movements associated with sight sounds plausible, but who knows whether this would be practical in actual electronic eyes...

eEyes? (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232410)

I would totally name it the "iEye".

Implications for "seeing with sound" systems? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232444)

I always wondered why those research systems that try to convert visible images into audio signals used a cartesian coordinate system. Seemed to me like a polar coordinate system would be a more logical choice. I wonder what a "fractal" coordinate system for such a system would look like.

Re:Implications for "seeing with sound" systems? (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | more than 3 years ago | (#36232994)

There are methods of doing this, they are very complex and can render very little useful visual information.

You'd have as much success by sending pictures to an opera singer then having him call you with a description in song.

LSD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232498)

Something Wolfram mentioned in his book 'a new kind of science'
http://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/page-577#previous

Could also explain why tripping people see fractals...

Isn't it just the shape of a Banana Clip? (1)

dbrossard (911407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233898)

Just ask Geordi!

*sigh* ./ (1)

andyr86 (1942246) | more than 3 years ago | (#36235982)

It amazes me that cool stuff like this gets 60 comments and *insert apple product here* *insert apple patent here* gets 600 comments. Very sad,

Those tleilaxu eyes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36236888)

people swear by them but you never know what they are going to do to you

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